Monday, May 21, 2012

At the Brandenburg Gate

As Bill and I emerged from the "Brandenburg Tor" subway stop into Pariser Platz, we caught our first view of the famous Gate, designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans in 1791, and "the symbol" of Berlin. I went immediately back down the steps so I could put the camera about one inch above ground level -- to show you one's very first glimpse of the Gate as one emerges from the U-Bahn.
Like good tourists we dutifully took snapshots of the front of the Brandenburg Gate
with its horse-drawn chariot, the Quadriga, facing down the broad avenue, the Unter den Linden
and from the Tiergarten park side. We liked the Gate very much but the most impressive architecture in Parister Platz for Bill and I was the interior of the DZ Bank building, also on the square.

It was designed by Toronto-born architect, Frank Gehry in 2000. The austere grid of the windows on the exterior follows local zoning laws for the square and belies the wonder inside.
The exotic sea-creature of the atrium is something we've never seen before
and is considered by Gehry to be "the best thing I've ever done". Don't miss it!
The other element of the neighbourhood not to be missed is the Holocaust Memorial (2006),
dedicated as the National Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and designed by New York architect, Peter Eisenman.
The huge monument takes up a whole block and is made up of oblong, grey blocks of differing heights.
As we wandered the disorienting middle forest of the slabs with its rolling floor we felt like we were in the land of the dead.,
It's a powerful experience.
Bill and I were reminded of two other powerful memorials to the dead.-- the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC and the Garden of Exile at the Jewish Museum here in Berlin.
Lest we forget.
 Bill and I were particularly touched by the much smaller but very poignant Gay Holocaust Memorial (2008) across the street in Tiergarten Park. The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted by Nazis remembers the 54,000 convicted of homosexual acts under the regime.
 The 4 metre high concrete oblong reflects the Jewish memorial across the street but features a window with a film of same sex couples kissing
 Especially moving for us was the quote on the public plaque, "Because of its history, Germany has a special responsibility to actively oppose the violation of gay men's and lesbian's human rights. Homosexual love remains illegal and a kiss can be dangerous." I read that out loud to Bill, my voice chocking up with emotion, and he kissed me.
Finally we walked over to the Reichstag, which for over 200 years has been at the center of power struggles for Germany's history and unity.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall it has once more become the seat of the German parliament. We hope to visit this stodgy old edifice this week to see British architect, Sir Norman Foster's glass dome that has become famous for its spectacular views of Berlin.


  1. Just thought I'd accompany you on your tours.

  2. Great to have you along, Enid. Lot's to explore here!