Johann Gottfried Schadow a leading neoclassical and idealist Berlin sculptor of the time built the Quadriga of victory crowing atop the Brandenburg gate in 1793, two years after the completion of the Brandenburg Gate (the enterence to the walled city). The Brandenburg Gate and its Quadriga has long been Berlins most famous symbol used to rival the dark history of the ephemeral Wall. The image has been adorned on all types of products, coins, playing cards, paintings, posters, postcards, tourist brochures and much more.
The Quadriga is a female goddess of Victory, standing within a war chariot drawn by four horses galloping into the city (the east, no what tourist/ visitors would expect, but the gate’s intended audience was the local residence and not outsiders), it sits aloft the 1791 Brandenburg Gate a German monument made by history, of which was dubbed the ‘Gate of Peace’. Following the War of Liberation the Quadriga, of which Napoleon due to his victory had taken to Paris in 1806 (became known as the ‘horse thief of Berlin’). In 1813 Schadow proposed that where the Quadriga once stood that an “enormous cast of the Iron Cross, the new military medal designed by Schinkel at the behest of King Fredrick Wilhelm III” should stand (Ladd 2008:74). Due to Napoleon’s defeat in 1814, a triumphant procession returned the Quadriga back to its rightful home aloft the Brandenburg Gate that was now renamed in it honor the ‘Gate of Victory’. “Schinkel designed new insignia for the goddess’s staff: a Prussian eagle and, within a wreath, the Iron Cross.” (Ladd 2008:74).
Therefore, the gate and the Quadriga became even more of a symbol of Prussia (Fredrick the Great) and its capital, and today it remains as Germany’s national symbol of victory.
By Rebecca Holland
Ladd, B. (2008) Ghosts of Berlin : Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape
Chicago: The university press of Chicago