There is a chill in the air as I exit the subway station. First order of business is to find a coffee shop for breakfast. I found that I picked places I could just point at pastries since I couldn’t read the signs. I ordered a nice pastry filled with berry compote and hot tea. I had a quarter mile walk through the streets of Berlin before I arrived at my destination, the historic Brandenburg Gate of Berlin, Germany.
This was going to be one of the highlights of my trip to Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate has stood the test of time. It has watched over the city of Berlin since it’s completion in 1791. The Brandenburg Gate was commissioned Friedrich Wilhelm II as a replacement gate in the Berlin Customs Wall. Berlin Customs Wall was built to help enforce the tariffs in the then small city of Berlin. Friedrich Wilhelm II hired German classicism architect Carl Gotthard Langhans to design the gate.
The Brandenburg Gate was built as a symbol of peace. The statue on the top of the gate is of Eirene, the goddess of peace. The Gate has provided an important backdrop to many historical events. The Gate survived both World War I with minimal damage and World War II with severe damage (that was repaired). When Berlin was split after the WWII, the Gate became part of West Berlin. The Berlin Wall split the city in two and prevented East Berliners from visiting the Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburg Gate was the site of U.S. President Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” speech as well as official ceremony that marked the reunification of Germany.
I walked through the Gate and couldn’t imagine the feeling of joy Germany must off felt in that moment when Germany became whole again. I spent time walking through the 12 Doric columns and enjoying my cup of hot tea. The gate is every bit as impressive as it looks in the pictures. It stands proudly looking over Berlin as a symbol of a united Germany and its long history. I look out from the gate and know that if I just following the road, I will eventually find the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. In the other direction is Unter den Linden and the City Palace of the Prussian monarchs. I was glad I got there early since I got to enjoy the gate with about 10 other people and no local sales people.
The Brandenburg Gate was a great place to start my first day in Berlin. It’s central local made a great starting point before a Reichstag Building tour, a visit to the Holocaust Memorial, a visit to Hilter’s bunker.
What is your favorite memory of the Brandenburg Gate? Have you seen any history happen there?