5 Famous Gates – From Parks to Paradise
Fences and gates began in antiquity as a way for society to draw a divide in property and provide protection to fortresses. During the Middle Ages gatehouses were added at the entrances of castles to provide security to their weakest line of defence.
Towards the end of the Middle Ages many of these gatehouses throughout England and France transformed into grand structures and became the status symbol of royalty and wealth. Many of these gates have become tourist attractions.
Although wrought iron fences and gates are some of the oldest styles in architecture they continue to hold their image of wealth and prestige to this day.
The Gates at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official residence of The Queen of England and one of London’s largest tourist attractions. King George III bought the Palace in 1761 for his wife, Queen Charlotte. The Palace has undergone construction, being transformed a few times throughout history.
One of these transformations came in 1911 when gates and railings were added to commemorate Queen Victoria. With the completion of the gates outside Buckingham Palace came a ceremony that is known throughout the world—the changing of the guard.
The changing of the guard ritual happens a few times each day in the forecourt of the Palace. Crowds frequently gather in celebration of their nation, standing together outside the intricate black wrought iron gates adorned in gold. The gates stand 24 meters high, wedged between stone pillars.
The Palace and the tradition of the changing of the guard continues to be one of London’s largest attractions—helping to make it one of the largest internationally travelled cities in the world.
The Gates at Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is set in Kensington Gardens and is part of the royal palace in London, England. This residence, located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is home to Prince Harry. In 1760 King George III designated this Palace as a place to room minor royalty. The Palace has several stately apartment rooms surrounded with beautiful gardens.
In 1981 apartments 8 and 9 were combined for the newlywed Prince of Wales and his wife Diana. Diana continued residing at Kensington Palace after their divorce until her death in 1997. The gates became a public mourning place for all those who loved Diana. The golden gates were covered in over a million bouquets of flowers.
Diana’s apartments were vacant for 10 years after her death and eventually became rooms used to conduct business.
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Another famous gate that draws tourists every year is Forest Lawn Memorial Park. This cemetery was founded as a not-for-profit memorial park in 1906 by a group of businessmen from San Francisco. Dr. Hubert Eaton was the first to oust upright grave markers and establish a cemetery as a place to reflect rather than mourn.
Eaton believed in feeling joy for life after death. He envisioned a memorial park as a place with sunshine, fountains, and trees to serve as a reminder to feel gratitude for life. His idea spread to others and today Forest Lawn Memorial Park displays several works of art.
The main gates standing at the entrance of the park are among the tallest in the world. Black wrought iron fences depict swirled patterns similar to vines branching leaves. Tourists visit the famous cemetery, located in Glendale, California to see the graves of dozens of celebrities and athletes like Michael Jackson, Paul Walker, and Joan Rivers.
The Gates of Hell
However, not all gates made of metal are actual entrances to locations. The Gates of Hell is a sculpture created by the French artist Auguste Rodin. Rodin created a collection of sculptures during his life including The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Age of Bronze. His bronze cast sculpture, named The Gates of Hell depicts a scene from Dante’s Inferno—a 14th century poem.
Inferno comes from the first section of Dante’s epic poem, the Divine Comedy. Rodin worked on this piece for 37 years until he died. The sculpture stands 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) high and contains 180 detailed figures throughout. This work of art is visited by several people who tour The Museum for Modern Art in Zurich every year.
The Gates of Paradise
Possibly the most artistic gates in the world are the bronze doors that decorate the Baptistery of Saint John, also known as the Florence Baptistery. This ancient octagonal religious building was built between 1059 and 1128 and is located in Florence, Italy. There are three sets of bronze doors on the east side of the building enveloped with extraordinary detailed artwork.
Lorenzo Ghiberti and his workshop of people were tasked to design and craft these east facing doors in 1425, after Lorenzo gained celebrity status as the top artist in his field. The doors are covered with panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament. The fine details are so exquisite, even the expressions on the faces of the people are clear.
Michelangelo referred to these doors as Lorenzo’s finest masterpiece and dubbed them “The Gates of Paradise”. Tourists from all over the world come to Florence to visit these beautiful gates at the Florence Baptistery and see a piece of paradise for themselves.
These famous pieces of architecture and art prove the value and timelessness that is ironwork and explain why this continues to be a popular trend in homes today.
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