Brandenburg Gate

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The Brandenburg Gate from the east ( Pariser Platz ), 2011
West side of the Brandenburg Gate in divided Berlin, 1985
The Brandenburg Gate in the Kingdom of Prussia , around 1855

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is an early neoclassical triumphal arch , which on the west edge of the square Pariser Platz in Berlin district of Mitte is. It was built at the end of the central boulevard of Dorotheenstadt , the boulevard Unter den Linden , in the years from 1789 to 1793 on the instructions of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II. Based on designs by Carl Gotthard Langhans . The sculpture of the Quadriga that crowns the gate is a work based on a design by the sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow . To the west of the Brandenburg Gate are the extensive green areas of the Great Zoo , which the Straße des 17. Juni crosses in a straight extension of the street Unter den Linden . The square immediately west of the gate is called Platz des 18. März .

The gate is the only remaining of the last 18 Berlin city gates. In terms of form, it represents the move from the Roman to the Greek model. It is one of the first classicist buildings in Prussia and thus marks the beginning of classicism as a state-supporting architecture in Prussia.

The gate is the most famous Berlin landmark and a German national symbol , with which many important historical events of the 19th and 20th centuries are connected. Up until the Second World War, the end of Napoleonic rule 1813–1815 was associated with the building. In the Weimar Republic , Constitution Day was celebrated here every year on August 11th . Until the opening of the Iron Curtain , it stood directly on the border between East and West Berlin and thus symbolized the clash between the Warsaw Pact and NATO during the Cold War at the politically most sensitive point of their shared border. Accordingly, the Brandenburg Gate has been seen as a symbol of overcoming the division of Germany and Europe since 1990 .

After severe war damage, the gate was restored by 1958. A comprehensive, almost two-year renovation was carried out by the Berlin Monument Protection Foundation by 2002.

Previous construction

Drawing of the old Brandenburg Gate by Daniel Chodowiecki , 1764

With the construction of Dorotheenstadt around 1670 and its inclusion in the city ​​fortifications of Berlin , the first gate was built on the site of today's Brandenburg Gate. It consisted of a breakthrough through the heaped wall and a drawbridge over the ditch.

With the construction of the customs wall of the city of Berlin in 1734 a predecessor of today's Brandenburg Gate was erected as a city ​​gate on the road to Brandenburg an der Havel by Philipp Gerlach . The gate system consisted of two baroque pylons adorned with pilasters and trophies , to which the gate wings were attached. Next to the decorative gate there were simple passages for pedestrians in the wall, which were decorated with decorative vases at this point. The building for the guard was already within the customs wall to the south of the gate and that for the tax authority to the north.

For the upcoming new construction of the gate, the syringe house north of the wheelhouse was first demolished from May 1788 in order to create a temporary bypass of the gate construction site in its place. The demolition of the old Brandenburg Gate then began in the summer of 1788.


The new construction of the Brandenburg Gate took place to represent Friedrich Wilhelm II in domestic and foreign politics. In the first drafts there was therefore the suggestion to write Federigo in bronze letters . With the design of the gate based on the model of the Propylaea of the Acropolis of the Parthenon Temple in Athens , Frederick William II compared himself to Pericles and presented himself as a ruler who would bring Prussia a golden age. Pericles stood for a clever alliance policy combined with a long period of peace and for the supremacy of Athens in the Attic League . This is exactly how Friedrich Wilhelm II wanted to be perceived after he forcibly pacified the republic of the United Netherlands through the invasion of Prussian troops in 1787 and brought about an alliance between Prussia, the Netherlands and Great Britain .

In this sense, the name originally chosen for the gate was “Peace Gate”. In addition to Friedrich Wilhelm II., His sister Wilhelmine of Orange , inheritance holder of the Republic of the Netherlands, should be praised as the bringer of peace. It was she who, through her tactics, moved Friedrich Wilhelm II to intervene in the Netherlands and ultimately brought about Prussia's supremacy in Europe. The concept of the “Peace Gate” does not contradict the coronation of the gate with a goddess of victory, but rather harmonizes with the absolutist idea of rule of the 18th century.

Both in terms of the structural layout of the wing structures and the decorative features, the gate was directed inwards. The ruling power should therefore not be made clear to those arriving, but to those living in the city. Like a theater backdrop , the gate served to provide the king with decorative and enhancing accessories when he arrived in Berlin.


Comparison between the Propylaea as a model and the Prussian reinterpretation, engraving around 1795
Ground plan of the Brandenburg Gate in its original state

The Brandenburg Gate is an early Classicist building ensemble of a triumphal gate, consisting of the actual gate structure and two flanking wing structures. The wing buildings not only create the transition between the gate to the adjacent buildings, but also form a kind of baroque courtyard due to their forward position .

Carl Gotthard Langhans had been appointed by Friedrich Wilhelm II as head of the Oberhofbauamt and thus entrusted with the implementation. He received, probably directly from Friedrich Wilhelm II. , The instruction to build the gate after the model of the Propylaea , the entrance gate to the Acropolis in Athens. Since Langhans himself was not in Greece, the descriptions and drawings by Julien-David Le Roy as well as by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett served as a template. Furthermore, Friedrich Wilhelm II demanded "to connect the large and beautiful parts of the city and the adjacent animal garden in such a way that the gate is given as much free opening and transparency as possible." For this reason, various changes had to be made compared to the original. Langhans reduced the depth of the gate significantly. In addition, he made the columns narrower and higher than in the model. The pillars thus cover less of the area and the higher architrave allowed sufficient unobstructed views of the horizon.

The gate consists of two rows of columns, each with six fluted and with bases provided Doric columns, wherein the inserted between the webs of the fluting Ionic order correspond. A brick and plastered wall stands between the pairs of columns. This was necessary because the slender columns alone could not have carried the load of the upper component with the Quadriga. The six rows of columns and walls form five passageways, of which the middle one - analogous to the Propylaea - is wider. Above the pillars is the entablature, which, unlike the Greek model, was not made of large stone blocks, but was walled horizontally. In order to reduce the weight on the pillars, the entablature is not made solid, but rather it encloses an approximately 250 square meter room that is accessible via the roof of the gate. The entablature is decorated on both sides with a metope - triglyph frieze, followed by the geison . Above the geison there is not the Greek flat triangular gable, but an attic . The Greek triangular gable is symbolized by the flat steps in front of the attic, which lead up to the center of the building. The grand finale of the attic is the quadriga above the central gateway.

On both sides of the gate were originally short pieces of wall with niches for the sculptures of Mars and Minerva , which flanked the gate to the right and left as seen from the Quarrée (today Pariser Platz). Two-day sheds followed further outside , which then merged into the excise wall. The coach houses stood directly behind the wing structures so that they could not be seen from the Quarrée. Remisen and wing buildings were connected by a common roof that spanned the inner path on the city wall and thus bordered the area in front of the gate. With the fall of the excise wall in 1867/1868, the sheds were also torn down and the gate was connected to the wing structures in 1868 by new columned halls, which were designed by Heinrich Strack . An additional passage for pedestrians was created on both sides of the gate. The sculptures of Mars and Minerva lost their prominent positions during this renovation and were "placed" in the outer walls of the gate. Today's wing structures no longer correspond to the originals. With their outer flanks, these connected to the development and only had Doric colonnades in front of the façades facing the square . During the Second World War , the wing structures were destroyed and then rebuilt with completely surrounding colonnades. This clearing results in a further pedestrian passage on the side of the wing structures facing away from the gate.

The structure is 20.3 meters high, the top of the quadriga reaches a height of about 26 meters. The gate is 62.5 meters wide and 11 meters deep. The pillars are 13.5 meters high and have a diameter of 1.73 meters at the base. The center passage is 18 feet (5.65 m) wide and the remaining 12 feet and 1  inch (3.80 m) wide  .


In addition to the effect of the architecture, the gate was artistically enhanced by numerous sculptural works. Both fully plastic sculptures and reliefs were used. Decisions on the artistic design of the gate were sometimes only made during the construction phase. Most of the designs were made by Johann Gottfried Schadow in his function as head of the court sculptor's workshop and director of sculptures at the Oberhofbauamt. The execution was carried out by numerous different sculptors, so that the construction of the gate can also be seen as an employment program for the Prussian sculptors.


Quadriga as it was in 2006 when illuminated at night. On a team of four, Victoria, the goddess of victory, brings peace to the city.
Detail of the Victoria
Victory mark designed by Schinkel after restoration in 1991

The Quadriga is the main artistic decoration of the Brandenburg Gate, which Langhans already provided for during the architectural elaboration. The mausoleum of Halicarnassus - one of the Seven Wonders of the World - probably served as a model . With the entry of the (Roman) goddess of victory Victoria in the chariot, the entry of peace into Berlin should be represented. The goddess Victoria is mentioned by name in the oldest known minutes of the meeting on the design of the Quadriga from March 13, 1789: “[It] it was decided that Mr. Schadow had to manufacture a model [...] which clearly expressed the dimensions of a group of 4 horses and a carriage in addition to the Victoria. ”Even during the construction phase, the Roman goddess of victory was not reinterpreted and the master plumber Koehler received his payment from 1791“ for the copper figure Victoria ”. Other interpretations than the Greek goddess of victory Nike or the Greek goddess of peace Eirene are not documented at the time and do not correspond to the current state of research. Zitha Pöthe writes in her dissertation published in 2014: “We need to investigate why a goddess of victory adorned the triumphal quadriga and not a goddess of peace [...]. It is unlikely that the choice was based on a purely aesthetic decision; the striking visual difference between the two is the depiction of wings on the back of the Victoria. Rather, it will have been its use in antiquity that secured Victoria the prestigious place on the Brandenburg Gate ”and“ Victoria could be seamlessly integrated as a symbol into the pictorial language of absolutism. It therefore served Friedrich Wilhelm as [...] legitimation of his own military action in the autumn of 1787 and the subsequent alliance policy, which pursued an intention to achieve peace. "Likewise, up to the end of the 19th century, reputable publications contain statements that the Quadriga initially the other way round, so with a view towards Charlottenburg , would have stood. Emil von Siefart refuted this in detail as early as 1912.

On March 13, 1789, a conference took place under the direction of Langhans to determine the execution of the Quadriga ("Char de Triomph"), which should be set up on the gate. Also present were the sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow, who, like Langhans, was employed by the Oberhofbauamt, and coppersmith Emanuel Jury . It was decided that Schadow should make a model of the Quadriga on a scale of 1: 8. The horses should originally be about 10  feet (3.15 m) high. A wooden model in original size was then to be made from the Schadow model. The jury had the task of transferring the wooden model into a setting made of copper. In order to simplify the production of the horses, it was decided to make only two horses in different positions, but four different head positions. The making of the wooden models was awarded to the sculptors Johann Christoph Wohler (1748–1799) and Michael Christoph Wohler (1754–1802), brothers from Potsdam . Even while the wooden models were being worked out, the Academy of Fine Arts determined the proportions of the quadriga changed, according to which the horses should now be 12 feet (3.77 m) high.

Since 1791, progress at Quadriga the Oberhof Building Authority was not enough jury was urged to amend the wording of Victoria in copper to Potsdamer master plumber to forgive Koehler, who already in Berlin, the figure on the French Cathedral a group of figures on and in Charlottenburg Belvedere had made .

In mid-1793 the quadriga was brought to the gate and anchored there. At this point it was still not clear whether the Quadriga should remain copper or be gold-plated . The surface of the quadriga had already been determined for possible gilding (2276 square feet = 223 square meters). The Academy of Fine Arts, however, recommended that the Quadriga not be gilded and so on July 11, 1793, Friedrich Wilhelm II decided.

Only after the Quadriga was set up, two more changes were decided. Originally the sign of victory carried by the Victoria "consisted of a helmet attached to a spear, armor and two shields." Since the sign of victory is said to have looked more like a lantern from a distance, Schadow left a pole based on a Roman Aquila as a replacement finished with oak wreath and eagle. Also at a relatively short notice, at the suggestion of Schadow, it was decided that the Victoria should be equipped with a “flying robe” because “from behind she looked so stiff and bald”.

After the Fourth Coalition War , the victory sign was replaced in 1814 by a design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel . The pole was now crowned by an oak wreath that encircled an iron cross and on which sat a crowned eagle with outstretched wings. The reason for the new version of the victory sign is not fully clarified. Under certain circumstances, the old victory sign was blown from the gate in a storm in 1806 and destroyed and only replaced after the war.

From the original Quadriga only one horse's head is left, which is in the Märkisches Museum . There is a replica of the quadriga on the gate.

Attic relief

Design for the attic relief by Bernhard Rode
Executed attic relief

Below the quadriga, on the side of the gate facing Berlin, there is a large relief made of sandstone in the attic. The specification of Langhans was a relief that should show "the protection of the just weapons which they render innocence". The design for this was carried out by Bernhard Rode in 1791 . Schadow produced a model on this basis. The sculptors Conrad Nicolaus Boy and Christian Unger were entrusted with the execution . In a letter dated August 1791, Schadow explained the meaning of the relief and described the figures: “The design for the bas-relief to be placed in the Attique des Brandenburger-Tor depicts the consequences of bravery in a number of figures. Hercules as the oldest Image of bravery drives away discord, with snake hair and kills envy and other monsters. - The goddess of victory hands him trophies and palm trees. - State wisdom stands with her, she holds the mirror wound with the snake in her hand. The goddess of peace with the olive branch and the laurel wreath arrives on a chariot drawn by geniuses , followed by Comus, the god of joy. - And the goddess of abundance, who pours out her cornucopia to the people. - Architecture as the oldest of the fine arts is dressed as a matron , it shows two young men, painting and sculpture a plan, a young genius eager to learn stands with it. - This is followed by the muse of music and Urania , the goddess of wisdom. ”Since the relief refers completely to Greek mythology , the mentioned goddess of victory is Nike , the goddess of peace Eirene and the goddess of abundance Euporia .

Bernhard Rode described the characters identically in terms of content. His description also shows that harmony and friendship go directly in front of the triumphal chariot with the goddess of peace.

Originally, an attic relief was also planned on the outside of the gate. This should refer to the inside relief and show how through the "just weapons [...] seven scattered arrows are again bound to one." This relief would have clearly referred to the intervention of Prussia in the Dutch conflict. The seven scattered arrows would have represented the seven Dutch provinces that had been reunited by Friedrich Wilhelm II and his sister Wilhelmina. It is not known why the relief was not executed. The place on the outside of the gate is still empty today.

Metope triglyph friezes

The metopes - triglyphs - friezes are located on the east as well as on the west side of the entablature of the gate and each consist of 16 square reliefs about one square meter in size. The metope reliefs on the west side are the only decorations on the outside of the gate.

The theme of the reliefs, which show "the dispute between the Centaurs and the Lapiths ", had been determined by Langhans and was based on the metope-triglyphic frieze on the south side of the Parthenon . The 32 reliefs there were distributed 16 to each side of the gate. The dispute between the Centaurs and the Lapiths arose when, at the wedding of the Lapithic King Peirithoos, the Centaurs invited as guests tried to offend the bride Hippodameia . A fight ensued, in the course of which the Lapiths, thanks in part to the support of Theseus , who was a friend of Peirithoos , got the upper hand. Since ancient times, this struggle has been regarded as a parable for the attack of barbarism on civilization, which ultimately triumphs over barbarism. At the Brandenburg Gate, the reliefs were supposed to be an allegory of the wars waged by the House of Brandenburg against other peoples.

The metopes on the west side of the gate were made according to models by Schadow. The sculptor Johann Eckstein from Potsdam was responsible for the eastern metopes . The first metopes were completed at the end of 1789.

Reliefs of the passages

Passages with the reliefs in different shapes and sizes

It was only around the time the gate was opened in 1791 that a commission, which included Langhans and Schadow, discussed the decoration of the gate with reliefs. It was decided to decorate the five passages on each side with two reliefs, i.e. a total of 20 reliefs. Schadow later criticized the reliefs as "bas-reliefs in the 5 passages that nobody can see". The Hercules legend was chosen as the theme for the passage reliefs. The powers and exploits of Hercules are intended to serve as an allegory of the deeds of Frederick the Great . In March 1792 the orders for the reliefs were given to the sculptors Emanuel Bardou , Heinrich Bettkober , Conrad Nicolaus Boy , Johann Eckstein , Johann Daniel Meltzer , Johann David Raentz , Johann Christoph Wohler , Michael Christoph Wohler , Christian Unger and the son of the sculptor Wilhelm Christian Meyer forgive. The designs were again drawn by Bernhard Rode, who had already designed the attic relief. The sculptors first had to make models that had to be presented to Schadow before the actual work was carried out.

The reliefs show the following scenes (from south to north):

  • Hercules fighting a giant . (above)
  • Hercules as a youth at the crossroads with Minerva pointing to the Temple of Glory. Behind both lies Venus . (below)
  • Hercules defeats a giant. (above)
  • Hercules in the underworld . Hercules mounts the boat of the ferryman Charon with Alcestis , whom he wants to lead back to the upper world . Pluton and his wife Persephone look after them. Cerberus lies under their throne . (below)
  • Hercules kills the stymphalic birds . (above)
  • Hercules breaks his bonds and kills the cruel Egyptian king Busiris . (below)
  • Hercules kills the Nemean lion . (above)
  • Hercules kills the centaur Nessus who carries Deïaneira in his arms. (below)
  • As a boy Hercules strangles the snakes sent by Hera . (above)
  • Hercules saves Hesione from the sea monster. (below)
  • Hercules kills the dragon Ladon and steals the apples from the Hesperides . (above)
  • Hercules fighting the Centaurs. (below)
  • Hercules leads the horses of Diomedes to Mycenae . (above)
  • Hercules supports the Olympian gods in the fight against the giants. (below)
  • Hercules kills the Hydra of Lerna . (above)
  • Hercules in the garment sent by Deïaneira. (below)
  • Hercules subdues the Cretan bull . (above)
  • The death of Hercules at the stake. His friends lament him, Philoctetes with the torch in hand. (below)
  • Hercules crushes the giant Antaios . (above)
  • Hercules is taken to Olympus. Mercury , standing next to Minerva, adorns Hercules with a laurel wreath . Juno hands him a bowl and Jupiter welcomes him. (below)

Mars and Minerva

Minerva statue, north of the gate
Mars statue, on the south flank of the gate

In the outer walls of the gate, facing the two porticoed halls built in 1868, there are niches in which sculptures of Mars (south side) and Minerva (north side) are placed.

Originally, the two sculptures were presented much more visible. They were located with their niches in the pieces of wall that connected the gate with the coach houses behind the wing structures. In the main view, they were optically positioned between the gate and the wing structures.

In March 1792 a decision had already been made about the installation of two sculptures in niches on both sides of the gate, but the representation had not yet been determined. Schadow suggested depicting the diligence and vigilance as statues. Alternatively, he proposed the representation of Berlin and Prussia. However, the Academy of Arts decided that Mars and Minerva should be depicted. Schadow supplied sketches and models for this in September 1792. He depicted Mars, the Roman god of war, seated with his sword in its sheath. Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and protector of the city gates and doors, also sits with her arm resting on the shield and the spear in hand. In March 1793 the Academy of Arts agreed to Schadow's designs and ordered the sculptors Johann David Meltzer and Conrad Nicolaus Boy to make the statues in sandstone. Meltzer made the Minerva statue and Boy was supposed to make the one on Mars. However, since Boy died in May 1793, Schadow made the model of Mars himself. The execution in sandstone was then assigned to the sculptor Karl Wichmann . The statues were erected in July 1794.

The Minerva statue was destroyed in World War II and replaced between 1951 and 1952 by a copy made by the Kranolda sculptor collective.


Ceiling painting of the central passage from 1841 shortly before removal, 1926

Originally the ceilings of the passageways of the gate were decorated with ceiling paintings. These represented trophies and were painted gray on gray. The work was carried out and designed by Bernhard Rode . The following paintings could be seen from south to north:

  • a war trophy, as a sign of heroism and strength,
  • the lyre of Hercules next to his club wrapped in laurel, as a symbol of the union of bravery and musical art,
  • the shield of Minerva with a Medusa head , as a symbol for the arts,
  • two entwined horns of plenty with a rod of mercury , as a symbol of unity and abundance,
  • an eagle with an oil wreath, as a symbol of peace.

The original ceiling paintings were replaced by ornamental decorative paintings in 1841 . A round middle field showed an eagle in the middle passage and rosettes in the four side passages . These ceiling paintings were renewed in 1875 by Gustav Eilers . During the renovation in 1926/27, the decision was made against renewing the ceiling paintings because the scale of the paintings was felt to be too small compared to the gate and the circular element on the ceiling did not harmonize with the round reliefs. At that time the ceilings were painted a single color light gray.


West view of the gate with a shelter for the guard and gas lighting in the passageways, around 1860

In addition to the representation, the gate also had a purely functional task. When passing the gate, the excise was raised and guarded who entered and left the city. The guard also had the task of soldiers on the desertion to prevent. The southern wing served as accommodation for the guard, the tax authorities resided in the northern wing.

The passages of the gate could be closed with two gates, each consisting of two gate leaves, except for the middle passage. It was a wooden gate and a lattice gate. The wooden gates were only locked at night so as not to impair the view of the zoo through the gate during the day. For this very reason, the lattice gates had a relatively large lattice spacing of 5 inches. The middle passage was only equipped with a wooden gate. As a rule, this passage was reserved for the “ Equipagen des Hofes ” and there was a guard on the outside of the gate to secure the passage. In the brick walls of the gate, niches were cut out for the gates, so that they did not protrude when open. These niches are still present in the gate passages. A smaller gate had been cut into the large wooden gate of the central passage so that two gates would not have to be opened at night. The difficult goals caused difficulties from the start. The wooden gates were in need of repair as early as 1795 and the large wooden gate in the middle passage had become so crooked that it could no longer be locked. The iron gate wings were finally abolished in 1840 after they had not been used for a few years. The wooden gates were superfluous and dismantled with the city expansion in 1861.

Since the gate was built, it was also equipped with gas lanterns .


The Quadriga in Paris

View of the square without a quadriga, 1813
Caricature on the defeat of Napoleon and the repatriation of the Quadriga
Schinkel's sketch of the Quadriga with the new sign of victory

After Prussia lost the Fourth Coalition War against France, Napoleon and his troops entered Berlin on October 27, 1806 through the Brandenburg Gate. Napoleon was accompanied by Dominique-Vivant Denon , who, on his behalf , gathered art treasures for the Musée Napoléon, today's Louvre , in the conquered territories . On orders from Napoleon, under Denon's supervision, the Quadriga was taken from the Brandenburg Gate at the beginning of December 1806 and sent to Paris. For this purpose it was dismantled, packed in twelve boxes and on December 21, 1806 went on a journey to France. First it was on the water to Hamburg , from there by ship across the North Sea . The Quadriga was then transported across the Rhine and reached Paris via French canals , where it arrived in the port of Saint-Nicolas on May 17, 1807. Originally, Napoleon wanted the quadriga to be erected on a new triumphal arch. Later he ordered the installation on the Porte Saint-Denis . Dismantling, dismantling and transporting caused numerous damage, so that the Quadriga in Paris first had to be restored. For this purpose, the individual parts of the Quadriga were brought to the Louvre and placed in the local orangery. The work was carried out by the coppersmith and chaser of the Louvre, Christian Caulers. When the orangery was needed again for the orange trees in autumn, the Quadriga was moved to the Hôtel des Menus-Plaisirs . After the restoration was completed, the Quadriga was brought back to the Louvre in June 1808 and exhibited there. The construction on the Porte Saint-Denis no longer took place.

In Prussia, the transfer of the Quadriga was generally viewed as a disgrace. After the dismantling, only the vertical fastening iron of the Victoria remained on the Brandenburg Gate, which acted like a spike on the gate. More than the lack of the Quadriga itself, this “sting” reminded Berliners time and again of the shame they had endured.

After winning the Wars of Liberation , the Prussian army marched into Paris on March 31, 1814. On April 4, Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (according to another source, General War Commissioner Friedrich von Ribbentrop ) reported to Berlin that the Quadriga had been found and that the King had ordered it to be returned to Berlin immediately. The Quadriga was packed in 15 boxes and at the beginning of April 1814 by land via Compiègne , Noyon , La Fère , Saint-Quentin (April 21), Beaumont , Brussels (May 4), Louvain , Tirlemont , Saint-Trond , Liège ( May 8), Aachen (May 9), Jülich , Düsseldorf (May 10), Elberfeld (May 12), Schwelm , Hamm (May 16), Bielefeld (May 20), Minden (May 22) , Hanover (May 24-27), Halberstadt (June 1), Schönebeck , Magdeburg , Brandenburg , Werder and Potsdam (June 8) sent back to Berlin. Since the heavily packed wagons in Louvain, Tirlemont, Sint-Truiden and Aachen could not pass the city gates, they are said to have been torn down without further ado, although this statement is at least doubtful. In Prussian territory, i.e. from Düsseldorf, the transport turned into a triumphal procession. The chariots were greeted with jubilation and adorned with garlands and patriotic inscriptions. On June 9, the freight arrived in Zehlendorf near Berlin and was brought to the Grunewald hunting lodge for renewed restoration . For the restoration, the kitchen in the east wing of the castle was converted into a forge.

The building assessor and later building officer Johann Friedrich Moser was commissioned to manage the re-erection . On April 18, 1814, Moser had work on the Brandenburg Gate begin. An opening was cut in the ceiling of the central passage so that building materials and tools could be pulled up into the hollow framework of the gate. Furthermore, the copper cover of the gate, which was damaged during the dismantling of the Quadriga, was taken up, a protective grille was installed and a temporary workshop was set up in the entablature, for which a stove was built there.

The restoration of the Quadriga lasted from June 19 to July 18, 1814. It was carried out by Mechanikus Hummel. Individual parts that had to be newly made were again supplied by Emanuel Jury, who had previously made parts of the Quadriga. In addition to repairing the transport damage, the Viktoria also received a new sign of victory. Karl Friedrich Schinkel produced the design for this on behalf of Friedrich Wilhelm III. on. The previous laurel wreath has been replaced by an oak wreath that encloses an iron cross with the year 1813. Based on the draft, the Berlin sculptor Haensch made a wooden model. As the time until the king's entry through the Brandenburg Gate was no longer sufficient to make the victory sign in copper, the wooden model was painted with oil paint, the iron cross was framed with silver-plated brass strips and mounted on the Victoria.

The individual parts of the Quadriga were driven in two wagon trains from June 24th to 27th, 1814 from the Grunewald hunting lodge via Charlottenburg to the Brandenburg Gate, again with lively public sympathy. The parts were lifted onto the gate with a crane, put together under a tent by the jury and Hummel and attached to the gate. On Sunday, August 7th, 1814, the troops entered Berlin with a ceremony. King Friedrich Wilhelm III rode at its head, and on reaching the gate the tent covers covering the quadriga fell. To celebrate the day, the gate was also given festive decorations. The quadriga was surrounded by twelve candelabra and decorated with leaves. In the evening, fire bowls illuminated the scene.

Remaining work on the Quadriga lasted until September 10, 1814. This included the production of the new victory sign in copper. Coppersmith Thiemann made the eagle, and Hummel made the oak wreath and cross. The wreath consists of 169 oak leaves in three different sizes and 90 acorns . The iron cross had been painted black in the fire and had silver-plated bezels. After its repatriation, the Quadriga was popularly known as the “ return coach ” for Berliners .

End of the Imperial Era and Weimar Republic

Constitutional celebration of the Weimar Republic in front of the Brandenburg Gate on August 11, 1923

Until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918, only members of the imperial family and their visitors were allowed to use the middle passage.

Due to weathering and environmental damage, it increasingly happened after 1900 that smaller and larger boulders fell from the gate. Comprehensive renovation work began in 1913, which had to be interrupted by the outbreak of World War I and was not completed until 1926. In the meantime, the events of the November Revolution had caused further considerable damage, particularly to the Quadriga. The restoration work under the direction of Kurt Kluge took place on the spot. For this purpose, the Quadriga was enclosed in a wooden structure. The Berliners spoke of the “highest stables in Berlin”, regardless of weather conditions, but the work could be carried out in the dry without delay. The numerous sandstone reliefs were under the artistic direction of Wilhelm Wandschneider , who remodeled one of the Centaurs metopes with a modified motif, restored and partially renewed.

National Socialism and World War II

Film recordings from July 1945

On January 30, 1933, the National Socialists celebrated their " seizure of power " with a torchlight procession by the SA through the Brandenburg Gate .

As part of the redesign of Berlin into the so-called “ World Capital Germania ”, the gate was on the east-west axis . A seven-kilometer section between the Brandenburg Gate and Adolf-Hitler-Platz (today: Theodor-Heuss-Platz ) was expanded and put into operation in 1939. During the further expansion of the east-west axis, which did not take place, the side porticoed halls were to be moved away from the Brandenburg Gate. The traffic would then not only have been led through but also around the gate.

During the Second World War , bombs and grenades caused severe damage to the building decorations in the Battle of Berlin , and both gatehouses burned down. The Quadriga was largely destroyed, only a horse's head, which is on display in the Berlin Märkisches Museum , was preserved.

Reconstruction and reconstruction of the Quadriga after the war

On September 21, 1956, the East Berlin magistrate decided to rebuild the only preserved but damaged former city gate. In the corresponding press release it says specifically: "Restoration of the Brandenburg Gate according to the original urban planning concept of its master builder Langhans, which means that the development on both sides of the gate has to give way to green areas and the traffic must be diverted around it". Despite violent arguments and mutual accusations, both parts of Berlin worked together to restore it. Thanks to a plaster cast from 1942, the Quadriga could be completely rebuilt, the reconstruction was carried out by the sculptor Otto Schnitzer, the execution was carried out by the traditional Hermann Noack foundry in Friedenau . The restoration was completed on December 14, 1957. The often heard claim that the Quadriga was at times in the opposite direction of travel is wrong.

In the night of August 2nd to 3rd, 1958, the Quadriga was secretly brought to the New Marstall and the Prussian eagle and the Iron Cross were removed or soldered out. The East Berlin city council declared that the "emblems of Prussian-German militarism " should no longer be displayed.

Time of division

When the Berlin Wall was built on August 13, 1961, the structure stood in the middle of the restricted area and could not be crossed from either the west or the east. Only the GDR border soldiers and the groups of visitors (mostly state guests in the GDR) led to the visitor platform by the staff of the Brandenburg Gate information center were able to approach the building.

Aerial photo of the Brandenburg Gate, 1961
Viewing platform in West Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate, 1988

The later Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker commented on this during the Cold War :

"As long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed, the German question is open."

- Richard von Weizsäcker

On June 12, 1987, US President Ronald Reagan spoke the following sentence on the occasion of a visit to Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate:

“Mr. Gorbachev , open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! "

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! "

- Ronald Reagan

Fall of the wall and restoration

28 years after the Wall was built, the Brandenburg Gate was reopened on December 22nd, 1989 to the cheers of more than 100,000 people during the political change in the GDR . The barriers were then completely removed.

On New Year's Eve 1989/1990, spectators climbed onto the gate and stole various attachments from the Quadriga (e.g. the bridle ). The following investigation, however, showed far more serious damage: Since the wall was built, nothing had been done to preserve the Quadriga and several internal steel parts had rusted through. The Quadriga was therefore immediately dismantled and received the Iron Cross and the Eagle back during the subsequent restoration. The maintenance costs amount to 200,000 euros annually.

The gate (especially the sandstone) was extensively renovated by the Berlin Monument Protection Foundation after a long period of neglect and due to significant environmental damage and was ceremoniously unveiled again on October 3, 2002 after a 22-month restoration. In this context, the Berlin office of Kardorff Ingenieure developed a new lighting concept in which the gate is highlighted as the most important building on Pariser Platz.

Discussion about traffic connection and integration and today's situation

View of the traffic at the
1936 Summer Olympics from the Brandenburg Gate

In the 1990s, there was repeated discussion in Berlin as to whether the gate should be open to car traffic or not. The main arguments against the opening were massive damage to the sandstone gate from car exhaust and the desired traffic calming on Pariser Platz .

In August 1990, the red-green Senate under Walter Momper presented a traffic concept to bypass the Brandenburg Gate. Within the subsequent black and red Senate under Eberhard Diepgen , there was no agreement on the transport issue. The CDU wanted to keep the Brandenburg Gate open at least for bus and taxi traffic, which was rejected by the SPD . Both parties agreed in May 1992 to keep the gate open for BVG buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians. The Greens , who had spoken out in favor of closing the Brandenburg Gate entirely to motorized traffic, blocked the opening by the Senator for Transport, Herwig Haase, on May 26, 1992 with a parliamentary group meeting that they held on the street.

Urban Development Senator Volker Hassemer (CDU) wanted to reopen the Brandenburg Gate in November 1992 for car traffic, which according to his plans should be able to pass through it at 10 km / h. Another suggestion from the CDU was a direct bypass instead of a more extensive one. Within the coalition, this led to a controversial dispute between the governing parties CDU and SPD. In addition, from discussions with the federal government, there was a proposal to be able to pass the gate underground by building a tunnel, which the Minister for Spatial Planning, Building and Urban Development Irmgard Schwaetzer from the FDP advocated.

At that time through traffic through the Brandenburg Gate in the 1990s

The construction work on the Spreebogen and the associated closure of Dorotheenstrasse was the occasion for the CDU Senator for Transport Jürgen Klemann to open the Brandenburg Gate on March 6, 1998 in two lanes for car traffic in an east-west direction. After the construction work was completed in 2000, the passage under the new Senator for Urban Development Peter Strieder of the SPD was again restricted to bus, taxi and bicycle traffic for the renovation of the Brandenburg Gate, which took about two years. Meanwhile, a new traffic concept should be worked out. There was disagreement within the SPD over a complete ban. In August 2002, the red-red Senate agreed to reopen the passage for local public transport and taxis from October of the same year. Transport Senator Peter Strieder later enforced a complete driving ban for motorized traffic, which was also supported by coalition partner PDS.

The majority of Berliners spoke out in favor of a block after the renovation. In May 2002 the gate was completely closed to motorized traffic under the red and red Senate by Klaus Wowereit and Senator for Urban Development Peter Strieder . The CDU spoke out against the blockade because there were no concepts and the transport policy spokesman for the CDU parliamentary group, Alexander Kaczmarek , called for the Berlin population to vote on the issue. The FDP criticized the blockade as a "transport and economic policy attack on the center of Berlin". The decision of the Senate against it was welcomed by the Greens and business associations.

In accordance with the Berlin Mobility Act , eleven high-speed bicycle connections are to be built in the city. The rapid cycle connection east route could lead through the Brandenburg Gate according to the suggestions of the commissioned planning office. This route, which was presented to the public at an information event on December 9, 2019, is the “currently best-rated route”. The CDU parliamentary group spoke out against a bicycle route through the Brandenburg Gate, because this would unnecessarily endanger pedestrians and reduce the quality of the stay. The pedestrian traffic club FUSS also criticized the plans and commented "Berlin's most symbolically most important urban space would be cut up".

Gate with the fountain on Pariser Platz without motorized traffic

In the area of ​​the Brandenburg Gate, the S-Bahn lines S1, S2 and S25 run underground in the “ north-south tunnel ”. In addition, the U55 underground line passes under the gate. To the east of the gate is the Brandenburger Tor train station , which is also underground, where these routes intersect.

Originally the federal highways B 2 and B 5 crossed the Brandenburg Gate. After the transformation of the Pariser Platz was the route the two main roads south on Glinka- , Behren- and Ebertstraße guided around the Brandenburg Gate.

Room of silence

In the northern gate house is a 1994 meditation room modeled after the space of silence , the Dag Hammarskjold in the UNO -building in New York for himself and his staff had set up. The aim is to offer a place for quiet contemplation in the midst of the city bustle. The place of tolerance between nationalities and religions is a reminder of peace .

The Brandenburg Gate as the setting for operas and films

Images and replicas

The Brandenburg Gate has been depicted time and again as a symbol of German unity:

See also


Web links

Commons : Brandenburger Tor  - album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Nocturnal gate users were obviously allowed to use the middle passage actually reserved for the courtyard.

supporting documents

  1. a b von Siefart 1912, p. 6
  2. a b von Siefart 1912, p. 42
  3. a b Cullen / Kieling 1990, p. 8
  4. a b Demps 1991, p. 20
  5. See Kurt Bauch : Das Brandenburger Tor . Bruno Hessling Verlag, Berlin 1968, p. 30
  6. Pöthe 2014, p. 400
  7. a b Pöthe 2014, p. 221
  8. ^ Ralph Paschke: The gate and its architectural-historical position. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 19.
  9. ^ Michael Bollé: "Antiquites of Berlin?" Carl Gotthard Langhans and the architecture in Berlin around 1800. In: Das Brandenburger Tor 1791–1991. A monograph. , Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 72.
  10. a b Pöthe 2014, p. 187.
  11. von Siefart 1912, p. 4.
  12. ^ Ralph Paschke: The gate and its architectural-historical position. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. , Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 16.
  13. ^ Contribution by the rbb in the context of the so-called Sunday question
  14. Laurenz Demps : On the building history of the gate. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. , Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 57.
  15. ^ Architects' Association of Berlin (ed.): Berlin and its buildings. Berlin 1877, p. 97.
  16. ^ A b Samuel Heinrich Spiker : Berlin and its surroundings in the nineteenth century. Berlin 1833, p. 18.
  17. ^ Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 93 f.
  18. a b von Siefart 1912, p. 12
  19. von Siefart 1912, p. 37
  20. Cullen / Kieling 1990, p. 29 f.
  21. Pöthe 2014, p. 218
  22. ^ Architects' Association of Berlin (ed.): Berlin and its buildings. Berlin 1877, p. 97 f.
  23. von Siefart 1912, p. 3
  24. von Siefart 1912, p. 13 f.
  25. von Siefart 1912, p. 16 f.
  26. von Siefart 1912, p. 23
  27. von Siefart 1912, p. 27
  28. von Siefart 1912, p. 38 ff.
  29. von Siefart 1912, p. 38
  30. von Siefart 1912, p. 41
  31. a b Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 103.
  32. von Siefart 1912, p. 40
  33. ^ Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 131, note no.34.
  34. ^ Ralph Paschke: The gate and its architectural-historical position. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 36.
  35. Stadtmuseum Berlin: Horse head of the Quadriga from the Brandenburg Gate
  36. ^ A b c Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after a victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 109.
  37. Quoted from von Siefart 1914, p. 44.
  38. Siefart 1914, p. 53.
  39. von Siefart, p. 4.
  40. a b Helmut Engel : The sculptures of the Brandenburg Gate. In: The Brandenburg Gate. Published by the Berlin Monument Protection Foundation , jovis Verlag, Berlin 2003, p. 94.
  41. ^ Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 107 f.
  42. a b c von Siefart, p. 44
  43. ^ Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 113.
  44. von Siefart, pp. 50-52.
  45. ^ Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , pp. 114-119.
  46. a b von Siefart, p. 15 f.
  47. ^ Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 127.
  48. ^ Gert-Dieter Ulferts: Peace after the victorious war / The image program - sculptures and paintings. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 128.
  49. von Siefart, p. 52
  50. ^ A b Georg Krecker: The repair of the Brandenburg Gate Berlin 1926-27. In: Monument Preservation and Heritage Protection , Volume 31, No. 1 and 2 (January / February 1929), p. 4.
  51. von Siefart, p. 43.
  52. von Siefart, p. 101 f.
  53. Laurenz Demps: On the building history of the gate. In: The Brandenburg Gate 1791–1991. A monograph. , Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-922912-26-5 , p. 48.
  54. von Siefart, p. 75.
  55. von Siefart, p. 76 f.
  56. Julius Kohte : On the history of the four-in-hand at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. In: Die Denkmalpflege , Volume 12, No. 7 (June 1, 1910), p. 54.
  57. a b Christina Petersen: The building history of the Brandenburg Gate. In: The Brandenburg Gate. Ed. by the Berlin Monument Protection Foundation , jovis Verlag, Berlin 2003, p. 57.
  58. von Siefart, p. 93
  59. a b c d e f g Julius Kohte: The restoration of the victory car on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1814. In: Die Denkmalpflege , Volume 16, No. 10 (July 29, 1914), pp. 73-75.
  60. von Siefart, p. 94.
  61. ^ Hermann Friedrich Macco : The return of the Quadriga from the Brandenburg Gate from Paris. In: Mitteilungen des Verein für die Geschichte Berlins , 55th year (1938), issue 3, pp. 112–113.
  62. ^ Michael S. Cullen / Uwe Kieling: The Brandenburger Tor. A German symbol, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-8148-0076-1 , p. 75.
  63. ^ Redesign of the Brandenburg Gate . In: Verkehrstechnik, Volume 20, Issue 10 (May 20, 1939), p. 255.
  64. On war damage and reconstruction see Götz Eckardt (Ed.): Fate of German Monuments in World War II. A documentation of the damage and total losses in the area of ​​the German Democratic Republic. Volume 1. Berlin - capital of the GDR, districts Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Potsdam, Frankfurt / Oder, Cottbus, Magdeburg . Henschel, Berlin 1980, p. 50 f.
  65. ^ Press conference on resolutions of the magistrate, held on September 22, 1956 . Berlin Chronicle, online version, ed. from the Berlin State Archives .; Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  66. ^ President Reagan at Berlin Wall (video, 26 min.), June 12, 1987, C-SPAN
  67. ↑ Dress rehearsal at the zip . ( [accessed on July 7, 2017]).
  68. Brandenburg Gate
  69. Ulrich Zawatka-Gerlach: The Brandenburg Gate has always been a point of contention . In: Der Tagesspiegel Online . November 13, 2016, ISSN  1865-2263 ( [accessed September 8, 2018]).
  70. Pariser Platz should become more attractive: The Brandenburg Gate will be car-free. In: Retrieved September 8, 2018 .
  71. ↑ Laying high-speed cycle paths through the Brandenburg Gate of all places not only puts pedestrians in unnecessary danger, but also devalues ​​the quality of stay at our landmark. We clearly reject these plans. … In: @CDUBerlin_AGH (Twitter). 2019, accessed December 11, 2019 .
  72. ↑ The rapid cycle path could lead through the Brandenburg Gate. Retrieved December 11, 2019 .
  73. ^ Aims , Room of Silence in Berlin, accessed on December 22, 2009

Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 59 ″  N , 13 ° 22 ′ 40 ″  E