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The history of Siegessäule starts with a major military victory during the 19th century. T Siegessäule was designed by Heinrich Strack in 1864 as a celebration of the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war. The original design of Siegessäule was only on a single column, without the statue on top that we see today.
The pillar of Victory
However, by the time Siegessäule stood ready, in 1873, Prussia had also defeated both Austria in the Austro-Prussian war and France in the Franco-Prussian war. This resulted in an augmentation of Siegessäule by adding a statue of the Roman goddess of victory – Victoria - on top of the pillar.
The 8,3m high statue, designed Friedrich Drake, is made entirely of bronze and weighs a total of 35 ton. Even though it’s not made of gold, the Berliners call the statue “Goldelse”, which could be translated to “Golden Lizzy”.
The base of Siegessäule is made of polished red granite. By looking at the pillar itself, visitors to Siegessäule can see that it is made up of four sections of solid sandstone. Around the stones are decorations made of captured enemy cannon barrels from the three different wars; one pillar for the victory against the Danish, one for the victory against the Austrians and one for the victory of the French.
Unknown, even to many Berliners, is that the forth section of the pillar was added long after the monument was originally built. What many people also don’t know is that Siegessäule has not always been located where it stands today. During 1939, the Nazis moved Siegessäule from it original location, next to the Reichstag, to its present location in the middle of the Tiergarten.
During this relocation, the height of the pillar was augmented by another section, the forth section. This section was added by Hitler to celebrate the Austrian annexation to Germany in 1938.
This relocation most likely saved to monument from destruction during the Second World War. The old location, outside the Reichstag, was totally destroyed during the war. Instead, Siegessäule survived the war without much damage at all.
Why visit Siegessäule ?
Siegessäule is one of the more famous landmarks in Berlin and definitely a site to see when visiting Berlin.
When visiting Siegessäule, there is more to see than just the pillar and the statue themselves. There is a way for pedestrians to access the base of the column, even though it’s surrounded by heavy traffic. There are a total of four underground tunnels, built in 1941, which leads to the column base. Visitors to the base can discover the beautiful mosaic that covers it.
This detailed mosaic is a picture which symbolizes the German unity in 1870-1871. The column stands on a massive granite plinth with bronze relief decorations around its sides. The reliefs show scenes from the Prussian wars against Denmark, Austria and France. In total, the monument stands an impressive 66m tall.
Siegessäule visitors can also access the top of the pillar by taking the 285 step staircase which can be found inside the pillar. Even though it’s a tough walk up, it may very well be worth it as it will provide a spectacular view over the Tiergarten.
Siegessäule is located in the middle of Tiergarten, central Berlin, Germany. The monument itself can easily be access through the underground tunnels, despite the fact that the monument is surrounded by a heavily trafficked street circle.
For the exact location of Siegessäule, check out the location map to the right.
The golden Victoria statue. (GFDL) Secret Pilgrim.
The relief at the base. (GFDL) Achim Raschka.
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our Germany map.
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