The Brandenburg Gate (German: Brandenburger Tor) is one of the main symbols of Berlin, Germany. It is between the Platz des 18. Marz and the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate through which people used to enter Berlin. A little to the north is the Reichstag building. During the Cold War the Reichstag was in West Berlin, and the Brandenburger Tor in East Berlin. It was built between 1788 and 1791.
The Brandenburg Gate has twelve columns, six on the entrance side and six on the exit. The columns form five roadways, citizens originally were allowed to use only the outer two. This is rather like Admiralty Arch in London, the central roadway is reserved so that royal and important traffic is not delayed. On top of the gate is the Quadriga. This is Viktoria, the goddess of victory driving a Quadriga, a type of horse drawn chariot.
After 1806, when Prussia was defeated at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, Napoleon stole the Quadriga and took it to Paris. When Napoleon was beaten in 1814 Prussian General Ernst von Pfuel occupied Pais and took the Quadriga back to Berlin, the olive wreath was changed to an Iron Cross. The Goddess Viktoria became Nike, goddess of victory.
When the Nazis came to power, they used the Gate as their symbol. The Gate was damaged but not destroyed during World War II. The governments of East Berlin and West Berlin restored it but it was closed when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961. The gate was in the middle of the death strip
In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate. The Soviets hung large banners across it to prevent him looking into the East. In the 1980s West Berlin mayor Richard von Weizsacker said: "The German question will remain open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed."
The Gate then symbolized the freedom to unite the City of Berlin. On the 22nd of December 1989, the Brandenburg Gate re-opened when Helmut Kohl, the West German Chancellor, walked through to be greeted by Hans Modrow, the East German Prime Minister. On December 21, 2000, the Brandenburg Gate was privately refurbished at a cost of 3 million dollar cost.