As you walk through the gate, feel the contrast between your liberty here and the recent years when the public would have been shot dead for straying in this zone between East and West Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate, an 18th-century construction commissioned by King Frederick William II, used to mark the West entrance to the relatively small capital of Prussia when approaching from Brandenburg.
Centuries of change in Europe saw the gate to the city come to represent the tumultuous history of Berlin, as it featured widely in the media story around the fall of the Berlin Wall. If you look closely at the stonework, bullet holes from World War II have been left as visible reminder of less peaceful times. Ironically, the gate was constructed to celebrate the relative period of peace in Prussia in the 18th century.
The Brandenburg Gate is topped by a statue known as the Quadriga, a figure of the winged goddess of victory driving a chariot pulled by four horses. Stolen by Napoleon, it was eventually returned upon his defeat by the Prussians in 1806.
The post-war partition of Germany saw the gate annexed in the Todesstrafe, a no man’s land between East and West Germany. When the Wall finally fell in November 1989, people flocked to the Brandenburg Gate to celebrate. The gate, which reopened in December that year, was thoroughly renovated in 2002 and now stands as a symbol of a reunited Germany. Meanwhile, the nearby Pariser Platz has been completely redeveloped and has regained much of its 19th-century pedigree.
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