Brandenburger Gate, or Brandenburger Tor in German, has been an iconic landmark throughout Berlin’s history and a must see for tourists. A symbol of victory, a symbol of defeat, a symbol of the rise of Nazi Germany, a symbol of Cold War separation between East and West and for the last decades a symbol of reunification and peace.
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Brandenburger Gate was ordered to be built by Prussian King Frederick William II in 1788 as a sign of piece. It would be the new, impressive entry point to Berlin.
The sand stone neo classical design by Carl Gotthard was inspired by the Acropolis of Athens. The Gate measures 26 meters high, 65 meters wide and has 12 columns (6 for each side), each 15 meters high. It has five passages. The middle one was for the royal family. The two passages next to that for aristocracy. And all other people could only use the outer two.
On top of Brandenburger Gate, a statue named ‘Quadriga’ was placed. It depicted the goddess of victory on a chariot pulled by four horses. But in 1806, when Napoleon and his Grand Army entered Berlin, they confiscated the statue and took it home to Paris. But Napoleon, more worried about the downfall of his empire, seemed to have forgotten all about it as the statue remained in storage until 1814. By then, the Prussians captured Paris and took the statue back to Berlin and placed it on top of Brandenburger Gate. But this time, as a symbol of Prussia’s victory over France, an iron cross was added to the statue.
On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. His Nazi party celebrated this event by means of a torch lit parade through Berlin. Thousands came to cheer and follow Hitler as he passed underneath Brandenburger Gate to the presidential palace. It would be the first of many of Hitler’s Nazi parades where Brandenburger Gate would be the setting. The bombings on Berlin hit the Brandenburger Gate heavily towards the end of the war but it remained standing.
Before building the Berlin Wall in 1961, one of the last joint efforts of East and West Berlin was to restore the Brandenburger Gate together. After the erection of the wall however, only East Berliners were able to enjoy it.
Tear down this wall!
At the height of the Cold War, in 1987, Ronald Reagan’s held his famous speech at Brandenburger Gate. He said “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalisation: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
When the wall fell in November 1989, the Brandenburger Gate opened several weeks later by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and East German Premier Hans Modrow. Over 100,000 people came to its opening celebration. Today, the Brandenburger Gate symbolises a united Berlin.
The Brandenburger Gate is open 24/7 year round, but the most festive time to visit is its New Year’s Eve event. Live music, stunning fireworks show and over one million visitors make this event extra special. Big matches of soccer championships also often show on big screens at Brandburger Gate. The Gate is always spectacularly lit during the 10 day Festival of Lights in the fall.
Besides celebrations, the Brandenburger Gate is a place of commemoration as well. More than 125,000 people gathered at the Brandenburger Gate after the 2016 attacks on an Orlando Gay Club. The Gate lit up in Rainbow colours to honour the 49 victims.
The Brandenburger Gate is in good company. For instance, the Academy of Arts, luxury hotel Adlon and the French and US Embassies all house on the Pariser Platz.
The Brandburger Gate is only a short 15 minute bike ride from the Amstel House Hostel Berlin. And our lovely staff is more than happy to tell you more on what is worth seeing near the Brandenburger Gate. Check availability here and we hope to see you soon!