The Siegessäule, meaning the Victory Column, is one of Berlin’s best known landmarks. Alongside the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz and the Bundestag Kuppel or Dome, this is one of the places which offers a spectacular view over the city centre.
Since these two landmarks are usually packed with tourists that queue for hours in order to get inside, the Siegessäule at the Großer Stern intersection is much quicker to access. This may also be due to the 285 steps on a steep spiral staircase which need to climbed for a chance to view the panorama. Nevertheless, once you manage to get to the top, the effort is certainly worth it. From here you will be able to admire Berlin in all its symetric marvelousness with the wide Straße des 17. Juni crossing the vast Tiergarten and uniting what were formely the Eastern and Western sides of the divided city.
The monument whose construction started in 1864, but was opened in 1873, was initially intended to celebrate the victory achieved by the Prussians in the Danish-Prussian War, but given the subsequent victories against Austria in 1866 and France in 1871, it eventually ended up as a symbol for the unification of the German Empire with the addition of the 8.3 metre high bronzue statue of the Greek goddess Victoria, or “Goldelse” as the Berliners lovingly call her.
The original location of the monument was at Platz der Republik, next to the Reichstag building, but was moved during the Nazi regime at its current location in preparation of a north-south triumphal road for the Nazis. Paradoxically, this relocation was what saved it from being damaged by bombs by the end of the war, such as most other monuments in Berlin. Since then, the Siegessäule has benefited from several renovations, the latest one lasting between march 2010 and may 2011. During this last refurbishment, which cost around 4.3 million Euro, among other changes, a fresh layer of gold was added to the statue.
If you have yet to visit Berlin, you may have already seen the monument in Wim Wender’s “Wings of Desire” (“Der Himmel über Berlin”) as here is was featured consistently as the place from whence the angels watch over the city and its inhabitants, as well as the place chosen by Damiel, played by Bruno Ganz, for the fall by which he becomes human. Besides, the column can also be seen in U2’s 1993 video of “Stay (Faraway, So Close)” – refering to the film by Wenders of the same name – or Paul van Dyk’s 1998 “For an Angel”. Back when the Loveparade was still around, this was one of the place where the crowds would gather in great numbers, making the monument famous around the world.
For those who have the energy to walk all the way to the top and see the statue from close, the monument is opened Monday-Friday from 9.30-19.00 or on weekends from 9.30-19.00 and a ticket costs 3 Eur (2,50 reduced).