Withstanding over two centuries of Berlin’s turbulent history, the Brandenburg Gate is immediately recognizable as one of the most iconic landmarks in Germany. And while people all over the world are familiar with its image, few people are fully aware of the Brandenburg Gate’s true significance as a somewhat conflicted symbol of war, peace, division and unity. Serving as the backdrop for defining moments throughout German history, the Brandenburg Gate is without a doubt on our list of the best tourist attractions in Berlin.
Brandenburg Gate History
Built at the request of Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm II, the monument was intended to symbolize peace in the wake of the Seven Years’ War. The Kaiser entrusted Carl Gotthard Langhans with designing the structure. He fashioned the monument in the neoclassical style consistent with many other buildings in Berlin at the time. Constructed between 1788 and 1791 the completed structure was fittingly named the Friedenstor (peace gate) and adorned with a sculpture of Eirene, the greek goddess of peace. The gate’s message of peace was all too explicit.
But no matter the intended meaning at it’s inception, the significance of the Brandenburg Gate to the German people would prove fluid over the coming centuries of turmoil and conflict. By the time of the Iron Curtain, the gate’s identity had changed drastically, and given it’s location at the border of the then divided city, it’s no wonder why. Completely inaccessible from the west, Brandenburg Gate was virtually absorbed into the wall that carved Berlin in two, serving as a cold reminder of the physical and ideological divide between east and west. The once peaceful identity had become synonymous with the wall and everything it represented – separation and division.
The general attitude and sentiments associated with Brandenburg Gate have once again shifted, this time for the better. As the backdrop for many pivotal moments in the gradual erosion of the east-west divide, the Brandenburg Gate now stands as a symbol of Germany reunified.
Berlin Tourist Attractions
We may have labeled it a tourist attraction, but it’s not just visitors who love this landmark. A ride on many of Berlin’s yellow underground trains reveals the city’s own fascination with the iconic monument. Along with the rest of the incredible Berlin tourist attractions, Brandenburg Gate is one absolutely worth checking out. We’ve compiled a list of only the best tourist attractions in Berlin. To get you fully saturated in the history of the city, we’ve included stops from the very beginnings of Prussian-era monarchies like the Berliner Dom, to more recent soviet-influenced additions like the Berlin Wall and Fernsehturm.