The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most important monuments – a landmark and symbol all in one with over two hundred years of history. A former symbol of the divided city, it drew visitors who used to climb an observation platform in order to get a glimpse of the world behind the Iron Curtain, on the other side of the barren “death-strip” which separated East from West Berlin, geographically and politically.
The Brandenburg Gate was erected between 1788 and 1791 according to designs by Carl Gotthard Langhans whose vision was inspired by the Propylaea in Athens’ Acropolis. Prussian sovereign Friedrich Wilhelm II was looking for a suitable architectural statement to enhance the approach into the Boulevard Unter den Linden. The classical sandstone work is one of the masterpieces of this era and is the only surviving one of 18 previous city portals.
The Quadriga, a sculpture representing the Goddess of Victory, by Johann Gottfried Schadow which can be spotted from a long distance was erected on the Gate in 1793. From 1806 to 1814 the statue was held captive in France as a Napoleonic trophy during the years of France and Prussia’s military rivalry for imperial domination.