The Brandenburger Tor

The Brandenburg Gate is the symbolic heart of the old and new Berlin. Built around 1790, the gate was once one of several by which people could enter the city. The city has now expanded outwards, of course, and the Gate remains standing at the end of the Unter den Linden and one block from the Reichstag. During the Cold War, when Berlin was a divided city, the gate was abandoned in the no-mans-land near the Berlin Wall. It became a symbol for what Germany used to be, a united country, and during reunification was the scene of many political acts and speeches.


Here is the gate as you see it when walking down Under den Linden.


Although I distinctly remember seeing the Brandenburg Gate the last time I was in Berlin, at that time there were no other buildings surrounding it. They had been destroyed during or after the war, and the gate stood in the middle of an empty space.  Since the mid-90s however, Berlin has made great strides in returning the area to its appearance at the turn of the century (1900).  Pariser Platz, the square in front of the gate, was once surrounding by low-level buildings (mostly foreign embassies or governmental buildings). Today, they have all returned. The US embassy, the French embassy, the center for Culture, and a museum all about JFK (strangely enough) surround the square.


The Gate up close.


My complaint (because let’s admit it, this wouldn’t be much of a blog if I didn’t complain) is that the buildings on Pariser Platz are all so boring! I know they did this intentionally, because no one wants to draw attention away from the Gate itself, but it feels more like a suburban shopping center than the center of a great city! For example:


This is the US embassy, as is to the immediate left of the Gate. BORING!

This is the building to the left of the US Embassy. I think it's a library. But it was designed by Frank Gehry. Does this look like a Gehry?? NO!


To the left of the Gehry building was this glass structure. It was apparently heavily criticized for having a glass facade, because people felt it was unduly showy and inappropriate for the square.


OKay, okay, I know I can’t complain or criticize too much. It is THEIR main city centre and they can do what they want with it. Alex suggested that maybe the space would be more impressive if we could have seen the ground. We couldn’t tell if it was grass, or roadway, or a bricked courtyard, or what. We did walk back past the Gate at nighttime, and it looked much better then, when all the other buildings were dark. Very impressive.





Posted on 20/01/2011, in travel, Travel to Europe and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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