One of Berlin’s most famous landmarks, the Brandenburg Gate stands triumphantly on the western side of the city, once marking the start of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel. It was designed in the 18th century and symbolised the division of the city and country during the Cold War, now standing as a Neo-Classical reminder of peace and unity.
The Brandenburg Gate replaced an older gate within what was known as the Customs Wall, designed with 12 Doric columns and a central passageway designated for the royal family. The iconic Quadriga sculpture was erected on the gate in 1793, depicting a chariot drawn by four horses and sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow. During the military conflict with France, Napoleon used the Brandenburg Gate for a triumphal procession after defeating Prussia at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, taking the Quadriga with him as a trophy, before being defeated in 1814 and the sculpture restored in Berlin. The Quadriga was redesigned with the goddess Victoria and a Prussian eagle to reflect the gate’s new role as a triumphal arch. Throughout the Nazi regime, the Brandenburg Gate was used as a party symbol but remained standing despite significant damage during World War II. Then during the Cold War division of the city, one of the eight Berlin Wall crossings was opened to the east of the gate, and it was here that Ronald Reagan famously challenged Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!”. Today the Brandenburg Gate is largely a cobblestone pedestrian zone and a place where people come to celebrate national victories, watch sporting events on big screens and bring in the New Year.
The Brandenburg Gate is just a few steps from the Berlin Brandenburger Tor train and subway station. It’s located right on the edge of the sprawling Tiergarten whose trails are ideally explored by bicycle or on foot.
The Brandenburg Gate was largely inspired by the Propylaea in the Acropolis of Athens and designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans under the instruction of Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. It was originally named the Peace Gate as one of 18 city gates that stood in the city, with the Brandenburg the only one to survive from this era.