Throughout history, when people wanted to show off, they tended to build something really, really impressive. Sometimes they built skyscrapers and sometimes they built boats, but if they were really looking to brag, they built an elaborate gate. The Romans made the practice popular, with their most important gates (also called arches) dedicated to military victories and celebrated figures.
After the fall of Rome, everyone wanted in on the action. So, every empire with some resources and something to show off ended up creating some of the most famous gates in history. India, China, Europe, and America are just some of the places you can find impressive gates, but the differences between them (or sometimes lack thereof) makes for a great comparison between cultures. After all, outside of the Olympics, how else are we supposed to see North Korea compete with France?
So get ready to update your travel wish list as you check out the most historically important gates in world history.
Built by the Prussian King Frederick William II, Brandenburg Gate was finished in 1791. Meant to be a major entryway into Berlin, it has seen several alterations due to damage from military engagements over the centuries. In fact, one of the last cooperative ventures between East and West Berlin before the Berlin Wall was built focused on restoring the gate from the damage it suffered during WWII.
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Located in Jerusalem, the Golden Gate's is called Sha'ar HaRachamim in Hebrew, which means "Gate of Mercy." It is the only eastern gate of the Temple Mount and has been walled up at various times throughout history. Though it's exact construction date is unknown, the Golden Gate likely dates back to the late Byzantine, and it is thought to be the oldest gate in the current city walls of Jerusalem.
Jewish tradition holds that the Divine Presence would appear through the eastern gate and that it will again when the Messiah comes. Jews also prayed for mercy in medieval times at the same location as the Golden Gate. Christian texts depict it as a symbol of the virgin birth, as supposedly Mary's parents met at the gate after the Annunciation, giving the gate meaning across religions.
After four years of construction, the Gateway of India was completed in 1924 in Mumbai. When India was declared independent from Great Britain, the last British troops to leave the country passed through the gate. Ironically, it was originally built to commemorate the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary.
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The southern entrance to Beijin's famous Forbidden City, the Meridian Gate (Wu Men) supposedly became the place where generals would "offer" their captives to the emperor in a ceremony. It also served as a location for the emperor to review his troops during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The gate is composed of five arches in total, known as the "Five Pheonix Turrets."