Friday, January 1, 2010

Brandenburger Tor

The Brandenburg Gate is considered one of Europe's most famous landmarks. It was commissioned as a sign of peace by King Frederick William II of Prussia, and build built from 1789 to 1791. It is the only surviving city gate and one of the main symbols of Berlin and Germany.

It is located west of the city center, in what was East Germany, about one block form the Reichstag. The Berlin Wall ran just west of the gate which kept West Berliners from it. East Germany's fortified death strip was on the other side which kept East Berliners from it. So the gate sat in no-man's land for decades.

The gate has six columns on each side, forming five passageways. On top fo the gate is the Quadriga - a chariot and four horses diven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.

Napoleon took the Quadriga to Paris, as a spoil of war, after the 1806 Prussian defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. It was returned to Berlin after Napolean's defeat in 1814 and the Purssian occupation of Paris.

The Brandenburg Gate survived World War II but was badly damaged. After the war, West and East Berlin worked together to restore it. East Germany renovated the Quadriga in 1990. In December 2000, $6 million was spent to privately refurbish it.

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