These days it's a tourist hot spot.

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THE BRANDENBURG Gate is Berlin’s symbol, an imposing 18th-century entrance to the city that everyone from Napoleon to Nazis has marched through.

With massive columns modeled after those of the Acropolis in Greece, the city’s trademark structure was commissioned by Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II as a sign of peace. It was closed off by the infamous (and now demolished) communist-built Berlin Wall that divided the German city after World War II. Western politicians, including President Kennedy and President Reagan, came to the Brandenburg Gate and called for the wall to come tumbling down.

Reopened and restored after Germany was reunited in 1989, the Brandenburg Gate is a tourist hot spot these days.

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Darth Vader sometimes strides in to join the throng, no matter the weather. Darth — a man dressed up as the evil, omnipotent “Star Wars” character — tries to persuade tourists to pose with him for photos — and pay him a nice tip for his trouble.

It’s an easygoing power play at a site that has witnessed some of the world’s most intense.

Kristin R. Jackson is the editor of The Seattle Times NWTraveler section. Contact her at

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