Episode 01: Brandenburg Gate



Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin


  • Built in 1788-1791 by Carl Gotthard Langhans
  • Placement of the quadriga designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow in 1793

What are the postcards of Berlin? A city that was turned down and apart, destroyed and rebuilt so many times that is hard to name monuments that represent its complex history. The Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate in English) however, is one of the few constructions that always pops up in our minds as an iconic site when we talk about different times and eras in Berlin.

The gate has witnessed the last 300 years of Berlin’s history. Everyone knows it as the background of David Hasselhoff concert after the fall of the Wall. I mean, everyone should. If you don’t know these images by now, please look them up on YouTube.

The Brandenburg Gate is the only remaining gate from the ones built in the XVIII century to mark the city’s limits and more recently it also was part of a much sadder city limit as part of the Berlin Wall. Throughout the last centuries it has framed the marches of Prussian emperors and of the infamous dictator, Hitler.

The statue on top of the gate, the quadriga, represents the goddess of victory that brings peace. The “friends” accompanying her on the façades representations underneath the statue are the personifications of human virtues or, stuff seen as virtues at the time it was made. The story of the Brandenburg Gate’s quadriga is quite funny. Napoleon took her away to Paris as a spoil of war in 1806. When, in 1814, the whole drama with kleptomaniac Napoleon ended, the quadriga had its peace stick replaced by an iron cross (somehow) representing victory, not only peace. The funny part is that she was then placed on top of the gate facing the other way around, towards Pariser Platz (meaning Paris Square in English), in a clear mockery of Napoleon’s defeat.

In case you didn’t get it: victory is facing Paris now. ha-ha

To know a bit more about the Brandenburg Gates’s history and the gate’s secret room, check out our podcast here.

Photo: Roberta Caldas | Episode: Roberta Caldas and Ute Linden

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