Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Brandenburg Tor

One of Berlin's most prominent features is the Brandenburg Gate; standing for hundreds of years and towering over the square in front of it which houses the city's embassy buildings as well as the most expensive hotels, including the hotel balcony from which Michael Jackson infamously dangled his infant child.

The gate was built in 1791 as one of the city's fourteen gates, its design influenced by the Acropolis in Athens. The statue on top of the gate was created by Gottfried Schadow and is called a Quadriga - chariot drawn by four horses - and is pulling on it Victoria the Roman goddess of victory, however originally it looked a little different to how it does today.

When it was first constructed the woman on the statue was holding an olive branch, the symbol of bringing peace to this land, however then it happened in 1806 that Napoleon defeated Prussia in battle (this area included modern day Germany).  As a trophy to remind himself and his enemies of his victory in battle against this powerful enemy, Napoleon took this statue back to Paris with him.

In 1814 the Prussians won a great victory over Napoleon and his French army, and so took their statue back with them. They made a minor adjustment to it before putting it back on top of the gate though; the olive branch that the statue was holding was removed and in its place was an Iron Cross - a symbol of Germany and of its military - thereby transforming it into the goddess Victoria,  the bringer of victory.

At this time, the square that the gate is located in was simply named 'The Square', but after the French defeat and reclaiming their iconic statue, it was decided that the square would be renamed to 'Pariser Platz' translated to 'Paris Square'. This change in title was not a coincidence; the statue of Victory would forever more stand over Paris Square - 'Victory over Paris'. In other words, it became ingrained in Berlin's architecture that Prussia brought Napoleon down in a crushing defeat. And they say the Germans don't have a sense of humour ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment