”Victory Column”

The Berlin Victory Column, or the Siegessäule, is one of the most iconic monuments to dot the Berlin landscape. In addition to the Fernsehturm or Molecule Man sculpture, the Victory Column is the piece of integral architecture that has become the focal point for any quintessential rendering of Berlin. Other than being rather photogenic, its historical and cultural significance paves the way for its archetypal immortality.

The Berlin Victory Column, as its name so forwardly alludes, is a paradigm of triumph. The German architect, Heinrich Strack, was commissioned to design the massive bastion of achievement to be erected after the Danish-Prussian war. It marks the success of the Prussians’ defeat of the Danish in 1864. By the time of its completion in 1873, the Prussians had also defeated the French and the Austrians.

It was because of these victories, which happened while the column was being built, that the golden statue that sits proudly atop of the column was added. These additional defeats elevated the purpose and deepened the definition of the tower, so just a column seemed insufficient. It was Friedrich Drake who designed ‘Victoria,”, the shiny emblem that truly ties the structure together.

Rodolfo Vantini‘s torre faro acted as the inspiration to Heinrich when he was creating the design. That column stands in Brescia, in a monumental cemetery. The Victory Column, which is a labor of mathematics and sandstone, stands 67 meters tall and consists of four solid blocks to consecrate the magnitude of Prussia’s victories. A series of substantial rings lead up to the very top, with a golden garland added in the mid-1930s. In 1987, François Mitterrand restored a decoration that had been removed in 1945, during the 750th anniversary of Berlin.

Its original location was Platz der Republik, at the time known as Königsplatz, but the Nazis moved it in the 1930s (where it still remains today) when they came to power as a part of their reimagining of Germany.

[SOURCE:theculturetrip.com]

”Brandenburg Gate”’

For more than 200 years, Brandenburg Gate has served as the national icon for an evolving German identity. In the 1730s, King Frederick William I issued orders for the Prussian capital of Berlin to be fully enclosed by a wall. Built not to defend the city, but to tax people as they traveled in and out of town, the Customs Wall was intended to reduce the power of the estates general (the clergy, wealthy merchants, and lesser nobles) by transferring their capital to the crown who spent it on a large professional army to expand the kingdom.

Fifty years later, King Frederick William II decided that the Customs Wall, while useful, was not an aesthetically pleasing way to enter the city. He wanted a much grander entrance befitting royalty but that would also serve to impress and intimidate visitors. Of the eighteen small gates originally set into the wall, only one led to the royal palace on the outskirts of Berlin and to the city of Brandenburg beyond. It was at this site that the monument known today as the Brandenburg Gate would be constructed.

Completed in 1791 by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans and sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow, Brandenburg Gate was a Neoclassical masterpiece that immediately became one of the most recognizable structure in Berlin. Its imagery combined representations of peace with classical allusions to famous victories, suggesting that Prussia’s peace rested on its successful military conquests under the leadership of its king.

In 1806, the city of Berlin was invaded by France. To celebrate his conquest, Napoleon used Brandenburg Gate for a triumphal procession before carrying the Gate’s bronze quadriga statue back to Paris as spoils of war. After eight years as a French satellite, Prussia rebelled against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The Prussian army was able to seize the quadriga and return it to its rightful place. To mark this new victory, the goddess statue was supplemented with an Iron Cross, a military decoration first given to Prussian soldiers who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and the Black Eagle, the primary element of the Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Prussia. These two additions suggest that the symbolism of Brandenburg Gate had shifted slightly, focusing less on the power of the Prussian king and more on the power of the Prussian military.

This victory over France and the increased national pride that followed was exaggerated over the course of the next century, eventually becoming a devastating nationalism that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and his Fascist government in 1933. Hung with the red flags of the Nazi party, Brandenburg Gate became a party symbol. The Athenian iconography of the relief sculptures of the battle between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, representing the victory of civilized men over barbaric and nonhuman creatures, would have appealed to Nazi ideals.

Berlin was bombarded in the final days of World War II and Brandenburg Gate, the city’s symbol of victory, national pride, and the Nazi party, was a frequent target. Although it was highly damaged, the Gate survived the war and became a witness to a new era of history. Because of its central location in the city, Brandenburg Gate was used to mark the boundary between Communist East Berlin and the Federal Republic of West Berlin. Walled off from both sides with concrete and barbed wire, the Gate was not accessible to the public for nearly thirty years.

However, with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Brandenburg Gate was integrated back into the reunited country. To ensure its new place as a symbol of unification, West Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl, walked through Brandenburg Gate to meet East Germany’s Prime Minister, Hans Modrow on the other side. Although the Gate today represents a united Germany, its solid presence also acts as a reminder of this once divided nation.

Today the Brandenburg Gate is a key symbol of modern Berlin and visited by tourists daily. Still dominating the Pariser Platz after more than two centuries, the Gate remains the visual embodiment of German identity.

[SOURCE:cyark.org]