Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brandenburg Days

The Brandenburg Gate lies at the heart of Berlin, the one remaining of four original city gates which were part of the historical Prussian capital. Like many of the great landmarks of Berlin it was devastated in the Second World War, but has been immaculately restored.

The Brandenburg Gate was a symbol of the division of Europe in the Cold War era, as the most well-photographed section of the Berlin Wall ran right in front of it. Anti-wall protests were focussed around this symbolic structure. It was here that the TV cameras descended in November 1989 when the people breached The Wall and Germans celebrated the end of their enforced East/West estrangement.

In Cold War photos, the gate is surrounded by acres of empty land, which contrasts with the shopping and hotel developments which now line the great avenues which approach it.

On the cold, rainy, December Day we visited The Brandenburger Tor, it was still a focal point for public demonstration. Members of Berlin's Muslim community were out in force protesting against executions in Afghanistan.

Standing in the Brandenburg Gate is something which, if not taken for granted, is slightly surreal. The Gate has obviously come to mean more as a symbol of freedom and unity than, its' historical value alone confers upon it. Nevertheless it is odd to stand, and photograph, a place through which generals, tyrants, and Emperors have come, and in turn stood and been photographed. It is equally amazing to stand under the gate and look out, and see for miles down a view which in memories of childhood photographs was completely blocked by a monstrous wall.

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