It is the capital’s most famous landmark and a symbol for the history and unity of Germany: Brandenburg Gate. When you are travelling to Berlin it is a must-see, so here is all you need to know about it:
Brandenburg Gate is located on Pariser Platz (“Paris Square”) at the end of the boulevard Unter den Linden. Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II had it built between 1788 and 1791 following the plans of architect Carl Gotthard Langhans in order to give Berlin a grand city gate to the west. The sandstone structure measures 26 meters in height and 65 meters in width and was modelled on ancient greek temples. It is today seen as one of the defining buildings of early classicism. The iconic Quadriga – a copper sculpture depicting a goddess of peace entering the city on a couch-and-four – was manufactured by Johann Gottfried Schadow and installed on the roof of the gate in 1793.
Ever since, Brandenburg has been at the heart of German history: In 1806 French Emperor Napoleon rode into Berlin; he had the Quadriga unmounted and carried to Paris. After his reign had ended, Prussian troops were able to recapture the sculpture and return it. During the bombardments of World War II, the gate was heavily damaged and had to be thoroughly renovated in 1956. After that, it was literally caught in the middle of the divided city and therefore the center of the global attention. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the peaceful images of celebrating people went out to the world. Brandenburg Gate, so far the emblem of divide, became a symbol for reunification practically overnight.
In the 1990s the gate was renovated once more and the formerly fallow Pariser Platz became a cosmopolitan square again with international embassies, fancy hotels and visitors from all over the globe. Big events like the Fan Mile during soccer world cup or the visit of US President Barack Obama in 2013 send out powerful images again. Also Europe’s biggest New Year’s Eve party with more than a million people takes place here every year.
Visiting Brandenburg Gate is a highlight in any case and you should not miss it when in Berlin. From Industriepalast Hostel it is a short metro ride to the site, and once you are there, you can easily walk around many other famous landmarks, too, like Museum Island, the Holocaust Memorial, the Reichstag Building, or Potsdamer Platz.
Did you know…
- …that you can find Brandenburg Gate on the flipside of the German 50 cents coin?
- …that the famous quote by US President Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”, was actually spoken right here in 1987?
- …that the Quadriga on top of Brandenburg Gate had to be restored after a David Hasselhoff concert on New Year’s Eve 1989/90 with more than a hundred thousand visitors? Numerous fans had climbed the gate and stole parts of the sculpture as “souvenir”.
- …that every single carriage of the Berlin Subway has about 800 little silhouettes of the Brandenburg Gate printed on its windows. Unfortunately the designer seems to have not put much effort into the draft and the pictogram appears perspectivally wrong.
Enjoy your visit at Brandenburg Gate and don’t forget to take the obligatory selfie,
Blogger @ Industriepalast Hostel
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.