I Have Walked through the Gate of Babylon

How’s that for a title?   While it might sound as if I’m coming down from a mystical experience involving Stonehenge, a full moon, and assorted pharmaceuticals, I mean it literally.  Here’s the story:

Museum Island sits in the middle of the river Spree, which flows through Berlin, and it houses a complex of five world-class museums,  The jewel in the crown is the Pergamon Museum, which is famed for its massive reconstructions of ancient structures – the Pergamon Altar (closed until 2019), the Market Gate of Miletus, and the Ishtar Gate (pictured above).

The Ishtar Gate, the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon, was built by King Nebuchadnezzar II and dedicated to the goddess Ishtar.  In the early 20th Century, British and German archeologists excavated the site,  They found fragments of glazed bricks.  Thousands of pieces of a massive jigsaw puzzle.

The fragments were shipped to Berlin where they were pieced together and combined with new bricks baked to re-create the correct color and texture.

I‘ve used an image from the Museum at the top of this posting, because the entire Museum Island complex is being upgraded, with underground connecting passages and structural repairs.  As a result, the Gate is partially obscured by protective scaffolding, which takes away from some of the romance.

These two images are details from the Processional Way leading to the Gate.


The Ishtar Gate was built in Babylon almost 2,600 years ago.  Seeing it—walking through it—was one of those things you might dream about doing, while doubting you ever will.  For me, it was a key experience.

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