Gate (architecture)

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Gate at the Palazzo d'Accursio in Bologna
Fishing hole for a gate wing at the Porta Principalis Sinistra in the Limes fort Abusina
wrought iron gate with side stone posts
Wooden post gate with guardian figures (1710)
Ornate gate entrance in Wiesbaden - Dotzheim (1908)
Sliding gate with side wicket door
Farm gate as a demarcation between different farm units in Namibia

In architecture, a gate is a larger opening in a wall , fence or building . A gate usually forms the border security between two uncovered open spaces that belong to different owners, whereas doors and portals usually lead into closed rooms that are usually owned by the same person who also owns the open space in front of them. In contrast to the gate structures , gates can also be open at the top; overall, they are designed to be smaller and less spatial. In a figurative sense, the word “gate” is also used for a correspondingly large door that closes the gate; this can be designed to be opaque or transparent.


The German term “Tor” is linguistically and meaningfully related to the Sanskrit words dur (दुर्) and dvār (द्वार); Gates ( toranas ) play an important role in classical Indian architecture . The ancient Greek word thyra also belongs in this linguistic context; the terms “gate” or “portal”, on the other hand, developed from the Latin word porta .


In the case of numerous gates, the representative character dominates the functional purpose to such an extent that such gates are often referred to as gate structures. These include the triumphal arches built in honor of triumphant rulers or generals, but also the so-called triumphal gates . Gates are usually located between laterally adjoining slender walls, bars or fences, whereas gate structures are built to a large extent in depth and / or are emphasized by tower structures - this includes, for example, many city ​​gates and bridge gates .

Typical goals

  • City gate : secured opening in the city ​​wall
  • Castle gate: secure access to a castle , often designed as a doorway or chamber gate (with gate, portcullis and the like)
  • Bridge Gate: Gate at the end or in the middle of a medieval bridge for the purpose of checking people and goods and collecting bridge tolls
  • Water gate : Gate in a fortified structure as access to a waterway
  • Garden gate: opening in the fence ( wall , hedge , fence ) of the garden, often as a lattice gate
  • Courtyard gate: Opening to a private manor / courtyard
  • Barn door: particularly large opening in a barn, e.g. B. for hay carts
  • Gate : opening for driving pasture cattle on pasture areas or for the passage of vehicles
  • Chamber gate : A chamber gate in medieval city ​​fortifications and castles is a system of at least two gates arranged one behind the other, which are connected to one another by walls to form a passage that can be easily monitored. Chamber gates can be placed in the free space between two circular walls or they can be attached to the circular wall as an independent gate.
newer names
  • Factory gate: Entrance to a commercial facility (with sliding gate , high-speed gate or with barrier)
  • Garage door : opening of a garage or workshop (e.g. with a roller door)
  • Stadium gate: opening of a football or competition arena
  • High-speed door : Door systems that are mainly installed in the commercial sector and in industry. They represent a technical further development of the well-known sectional doors or roller doors. The differences lie primarily in the construction geared towards high running speeds and a large number of load changes (opening and closing). Depending on the design, a horizontal or vertical running direction is possible.
  • Sectional door : Used to lock halls or as a garage door. The door leaf is divided into several horizontal elements and closes from top to bottom. More rarely, there is also a vertical subdivision. Compared to the overhead door, the “wing door” and the “swing door” it has the advantage that it does not require any space to open on the outside. The roller shutter competes with the sectional door. Roller and sectional doors can also be designed as high-speed doors.
  • Roller shutter : Is used to close off openings in halls or garages that can be walked or driven over. It is similar to a roller shutter , but it must also meet the safety and thermal protection requirements that are guaranteed by the window for roller shutters. Roller doors have the advantage over classic garage doors that no space is required outside to open. The advantage over sectional doors is that no space is required above the interior.

Regional features and gate structures

  • Pailou , gate element in Chinese architecture . Pailous were built in China from wood or stone , provided with curved roofs and had several arches. As a gate of honor, their function was comparable to the European triumphal arch .
  • Propylon : Describes the gateway that leads into the area ( Temenos ) of Greek sanctuaries, which is usually enclosed by walls , and later also into other public buildings and facilities.
  • Pylon : In ancient Egyptian and Greek architecture , a pylon is a gate system with flank towers that provides access to a temple area (→ pylon (Egypt) ) or a similar system. As largely independent structures, the pylons can flank the entrance or be connected to one another to form a compact, monumental entrance structure.
  • Torii ( Japanese鳥 居): Are elements of traditional Japanese architecture and as such are real or symbolic entrance gates of a shrine. These are gates made of wood or stone (more rarely iron, bronze or concrete), which are often painted vermilion red and which mark the border between the profane and the sacred . They are the most striking sign of Shinto buildings, but they are also rarely found in Buddhist temples .
  • Gopuram ( Tamil கோபுரம் kōpuram, "royal festivals"): Is in the south Indian religious architecture a gate tower that grants access to the temple area enclosed by a wall.
  • Torana : Is a - mostly free-standing - gate in front of a Buddhist , Hindu or Jain shrine in India or other Asian countries. They originally marked the transition from the secular to the sacred world. In later times their religious implications were lost in many places and they became welcoming or honorary monuments in the urban fabric.
  • Torburg : Is an architecturally relatively independent gate of a castle or a city ​​wall . A common form is the "tower gate castle" with towers. These include the often monumental forms of the "half-round tower gate castle", the gate castle flanked by double half-round towers or the gate castle with a central tower. In the case of a castle gate, the archways are usually upstream; that is, they lie across the trench. In these cases one also speaks of a barbican .
  • Gate tower : It rises above or next to a gate of a larger facility. Usually it is part of a medieval fortification . This can be a city ​​fortification , a fortress or a castle complex. Accordingly, it is then called the city gate tower, fortress tower or castle gate tower. The gate tower can also stand as a twin tower on both sides of a gate system. Gate towers are also symbolically used as the main entrance in the design of modern building complexes.

Historic gate structures

Even in antiquity there were simple gates and those with a predominantly representative character. While simple gates often remained nameless and often disappeared, the latter are sometimes preserved to this day: These include, for example, the Babylonian Ishtar gate from the 6th century BC. Or the Porta Nigra in Trier from 180 AD. When the medieval Cologne city wall was torn down in the 19th century, the representative archways were deliberately left standing.

Examples of medieval city ​​gates

In the 15th century cannons were developed with which one could shoot down the castle and city walls. As a result, the military importance of the city gates increasingly declined, but representative gate structures were still built.

Examples of modern gates

Contemporary gates

Representative city gates are also being built today - one example is the 110 m high Grande Arche in the Paris suburb of La Défense , built between 1985 and 1989 , which lies on the same royal axis as the aforementioned triumphal arch . However, the building is not only used for representation, but houses offices and exhibition areas .

Often the buildings did not build on the form of a historical city gate or the triumphal arch and yet the city planners, local politicians and investors are part of the (symbolic) gates or particular area leading goals referred. An example of this is the Torhaus exhibition center in Frankfurt am Main from 1983.


A wicket door is an access integrated into a large gate with a larger dimension than a door. It enables simplified access without having to open the large gate (mostly for pedestrians at factory gates etc.).

See also

Web links

Commons : Gates  - collection of images, videos and audio files