Brandenburg Gate (1788)
During the 18th century, Prussia was allied to England and the Dutch Republic. In 1782 however, the rebellion in the Republic against Stadtholder William V threatened the friendly relations. Important in this matter too, was the wife of William V, Wilhelmina of Prussia. She was the sister of the King of Prussia, Frederick William II. When she was caught by the patriotic rebellion, her brother did not hesitate to invade the Republic. In 1787 the patriots were chased away to France. To commemorate the reaffirmed alliance between Great Britain, Prussia and the Dutch Republic, the King of Prussia ordered the Brandenburg Gate to be built. At the time it was placed at the western borders of the city, so people travelling in the direction of the Dutch Republic and England would be reminded of the friendly ties with these countries.
Symbol in the Cold War
In the Cold War, the Brandenburg Gate was the center of cultural diplomacy again. After the uprising of East Berlin workers on June 17 1953, the avenue stretching from the Victory Column to the Brandenburg Gate was changed from Charlottenburger Chaussee to Straße des 17. Juni. From then on, the Brandenburg Gate would become a symbol of the Cold War. In 1963, the Berlin Wall blocked the city gate. This picture was reinforced by the speech of Ronald Reagan in 1987, in which he addressed Mikhail Gorbachev with the words: "Mr. Gorbachev! Tear down this Wall!" Two years later, the people of East and West Berlin were standing on that same wall, soon te be united into a new Germany. The gate was open again, when Germany's capital changed from Bonn to Berlin in the 1990s, the Reichstag building nearby the Brandenburg Gate regained its function as House of the German Bundestag. This enhanced the Brandenburg Gate as a symbol of unified Germany.
The Brandenburg Gate nowadays
The "Brandenburger Tor" is a symbol for everyone. It is a cultural monument, appreciated by both tourists and citizens. At New Year's Eve, the biggest street party in Europe is held on the Straße des 17. Juni, from the Victory Column to the Brandenburg Gate. But it is also a place where people come together to show collective discontent, such as the anti-racism demonstration in January 2015 after several mosques in Europe were attacked. Also after the killing of twelve staff members of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, people gathered at the gate to show their sympathy. In this way, the gate remains a powerful symbol of international solidarity and cultural diplomacy.