Some More Famous Gates, Real and Imagined

Gates Opening, Gates Closing…

  • The entrance to the Dachau concentration camp, marked arbeit macht frei

  • Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station

  • The wardrobe portal to Narnia

  • The door to All Saints’ Church or Castle Church in Wittenberg, on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses

  • Rodin’s gorgeous sculpture The Gates of Hell, inspired by Dante’s “Inferno”

  • The Stargate of the Stargate movies, television series, and game releases.

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon

  • The Ishtar Gate (Arabic: بوابة عشتار‎) was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city.

File:Ishtar Gate at Berlin Museum.jpg

  • The Gateway Arch in St. Louis

The golden doors of the Florence Baptistery, depicting The Gates of Paradise by Ghiberti

File:Abraham (Gates of Paradise) 01.JPG

Details of one panel of the work.

  • Door to No.10 Downing Street (Prime Minister’s residence)

  • All the doors in the movie, Monsters Inc.

The Brandenburger Tor, symbol of Berlin.

The Great Gate of Kiev

The Arch of Trajan, Ancona, Italy from the 1st century, common era.

The Colossus of Rhodes. Greece, 3rd century B.C.E., A statue of Helios, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World

Ianus Geminus/Porta Belli closed only in peacetime, in the Roman Forum


The Arch of Janus was not dedicated to the Roman god, and is the only triumphal arch with four front sides.

Tiananmen- the Gate of Heavenly Peace

File:Tiananmen 1901.jpg

The Columbus Door, US Capital

File:Bronze Door, Capitol, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.png

  • The Gates of Hell/Hades

The gates of the Imperial Palace (kokyo) in Tokyo.

File:Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gate.JPG

In Korea, Namdaemun – famous national icon.


Christo and Jean-Claude’s exhibit, “The Gates,” which displayed a few years ago in NYC’s Central Park.

Johnston Gate has been the main entrance to Harvard Yard since the 17th Century.

The gates to Hell in Dante’s Inferno: “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here)

Buland Darwaza

The Buland Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri is the highest gateway in the world.
  • Buland Darwaza (Hindi: बुलंद दरवाज़ा, Urdu: بُلند دروازه, pronounced [ˈbʊlənd̪ d̪ərˈʋaːzaː]), meaning ‘high’ or ‘great’ gate in Persian. It is located in Fatehpur Sikri which is located 43 km away from Agra, India. It is also known as the “Gate of Magnificence.” Buland Darwaza or the loft gateway was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 A.D. at Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. [1]

India Gate, New Delhi…

Gateway of India, Mumbai

  • The Gateway of India is a monument built during the British Raj in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India.[2] Located on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder area in South Mumbai, the monument overlooks the Arabian Sea.[3][4] The gateway is a basalt arch, 26 metres (85 feet) high. It lies at the end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg at the water’s edge in the harbor of Bombay.[5] Previously, it was a crude jetty used by the fishing community which was later renovated and used as a landing place for British governors and other prominent people. In earlier times, the gateway was the monument that visitors arriving by boat would have first seen in Mumbai.[6][7] The gateway has also been referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai,[8] and is the city’s top tourist attraction.[9]The monument was erected to commemorate the landing on the Apollo Bunder of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary when they visited India in 1911. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, the foundation stone for the Gateway of India was laid on 31 March 1911. The final design of George Wittet was sanctioned in 1914 and the construction of the monument was completed in 1924. The gateway was latterly the ceremonial entrance to India for Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay.[10] It served to allow entry and access to India.[11]…

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

The gate of Auschwitz Concentration camp. The door was recently stolen.…

Gates of Argonath, Lord of the Rings

Some of the gates of Paris date back to the days when Paris was a walled city.

  • Amsterdamse Poort

  • Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

  • Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem’s old city

  • Sungnyemun, or the South Gate, Seoul

  • The Traitor’s Gate, Tower of London

The Gates of Alexander

File:Darielpass 1906.jpg

  • The rabbit hole, In Alice’s adventure
  • The door to No. 10, Downing street

  • The Doors of Durin, or West-door, in “The Lord of the Rings”

The hot gates of Thermopylae.

by Massimo Taparelli d’ Azeglio

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoilein Paris

The Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806.

The door Mary Lennox discovers in The Secret Garden.

The door to Plato’s academy which said”

“Let no one ignorant of geometry enter”


  • The wardrobe which acted as a door to Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and others in the series by CS Lewis.

  • The portals to prehistoric times in the TV series “Primeval”.


  • “Before the Law” (German: “Vor dem Gesetz”) is a parable in the novel The Trial (German: Der Prozess), by Franz Kafka. “Before the Law” was published in Kafka’s lifetime, while The Trial was not published until after Kafka’s death.
  • stands a doorkeeper. To this door-keeper there comes a man from the country and prays for admittance to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and then asks if he will be allowed in later. “It is possible,” says the doorkeeper, “but not at the moment.” Since the gate stands open, as usual, and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man stoops to peer through the gateway into the interior. Observing that, the doorkeeper laughs and says: “If you are so drawn to it, just try to go in despite my veto. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the least of the door-keepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last. The third doorkeeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him.” These are difficulties the man from the country has not expected; the Law, he thinks, should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone, but as he now takes a closer look at the doorkeeper in his fur coat, with his big sharp nose and long, thin, black Tar-tar beard, he decides that it is better to wait until he gets permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at one side of the door. There he sits for days and years. He makes many at-tempts to be admitted, and wearies the doorkeeper by his importunity. The doorkeeper frequently has little interviews with him, asking him questions about his home and many other things, but the questions are put indifferently, as great lords put them, and always finish with the statement that he cannot be let in yet. The man, who has furnished himself with many things for his journey, sacrifices all he has, however valuable, to bribe the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper accepts every- thing, but always with the remark: “I am only taking it to keep you from thinking you have omitted any- thing.” During these many years the man fixes his at-tention almost continuously on the doorkeeper. He for- gets the other doorkeepers, and this first one seems to him the sole obstacle preventing access to the Law. He curses his bad luck, in his early years boldly and loudly, later, as he grows old, he only grumbles to himself. He becomes childish, and since in his yearlong contempla-tion of the doorkeeper he has come to know even the fleas in his fur collar, he begs the fleas as well to help him and to change the doorkeeper’s mind. At length his eyesight begins to fail, and he does not know whether the world is really darker or whether his eyes are only deceiving him. Yet in his darkness he is now aware t of a radiance that streams inextinguishably from the gateway of the Law. Now he has not very long to live. Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to one point, a ques-tion he has not yet asked the doorkeeper. He waves him nearer, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low towards him, for the difference in height between them has altered much to the man’s disadvantage. “What do you want to know now?” asks the doorkeeper; “you are insati-able.” “Everyone strives to reach the Law,” says the man, “so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admit-tance?” The doorkeeper recognizes that the man has reached his end, and to let his failing senses catch the words roars in his ear: “No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.”

The gates of horn and ivory – the gates of dreams.

  • The gates of horn and ivory are a literary image used to distinguish true dreams (corresponding to factual occurrences) from false. The phrase originated in the Greek language, in which the word for “horn” is similar to that for “fulfil” and the word for “ivory” is similar to that for “deceive”. On the basis of that play on words, true dreams are spoken of as coming through the gates of horn, false dreams as coming through those of ivory.
  • These are found in Homer and many times since.  One gate lets in truthful dreams, the other deceptive.

  • Virgil borrowed the image of the two gates in lines 893-898 of Book 6 of his Aeneid, describing that of horn as the passageway for true shadows[7] and that of ivory as that through which the Manes in the underworld send false dreams up to the living.[8] Through the latter gate Virgil makes his hero Aeneas, accompanied by the Cumaean Sibyl, return from his visit to the underworld, where he has met, among others, his dead father Anchises:

    Two gates the silent house of Sleep adorn;
    Of polish’d ivory this, that of transparent horn:
    True visions thro’ transparent horn arise;
    Thro’ polish’d ivory pass deluding lies.
    Of various things discoursing as he pass’d,
    Anchises hither bends his steps at last.
    Then, thro’ the gate of iv’ry, he dismiss’d
    His valiant offspring and divining guest.[9]

Rashomon Gate

Rashomon Gate, made famous as the setting for Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon.…

Tolkien’s Gates of Mordor

  • In J. R. R. Tolkien‘s fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor or Morhdorh (pronounced [ˈmɔr̥dɔr̥]; from Sindarin Black Land and Quenya Land of Shadow) was the dwelling place of Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring (and later Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee) in the quest to destroy the One Ring. Mordor was unique because of the three enormous mountain ridges surrounding it, from the north, from the west and from the south. The mountains both protected the land from an unexpected invasion by any of the people living in those directions and kept those living in Mordor from escaping. Tolkien was reported to have identified Mordor with the volcano of Stromboli off Sicily.[1]

The Lion’s Gate in ancient Mycenae.

  • The Lions’ Gate (Hebrew: שער האריות‎ Sha’ar Ha’Arayot, Arabic: باب الأسباط‎, also St. Stephen’s Gate or Sheep Gate) is located in the Old City Walls of Jerusalem and is one of seven open Gates in Jerusalem’s Old City Walls.Located in the east wall, the entrance marks the beginning of the traditional Christian observance of the last walk of Jesus from prison to crucifixion, the Via Dolorosa. Near the gate’s crest are four figures of panthers, often mistaken for lions, two on the left and two on the right. They were placed there by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to celebrate the Ottoman defeat of the Mamluks in 1517. Legend has it that Suleiman’s predecessor Selim I was captured by lions that were going to eat him because of his plans to level the city. He was spared only after promising to protect the city by building a wall around it. This led to the lion becoming the heraldic symbol of Jerusalem.[2] However, Jerusalem already had been, from Biblical times, the capital of the Kingdom of Judah, whose emblem was a lion (Genesis 49:9).[3]

File:LionsGate Jerusalem.JPG

The Front Gate in Literature

The history of the front gate probably goes back to the first walled villages in ancient times. Walls were of course built to keep out the wild animals and the pillaging hoards from across the river. And of course whenever one builds a wall, one must build a gate, which is merely a moveable section of wall, after all. Egress and entrance being a necessity, being forced to clamber over a wall (or fence) is both impractical and seriously undignified. Hence the need for the gate.


Over time, gates grew in size, strength, and were eventually joined by other gates – side and back, sluice and flood, gates to enlightenment, and gateways to reason, the soul, and sundry other places one might wish to enter, or to leave.


But it is the front gate that is prominent, most obvious, and, not surprising after millenniums of presence among us, so ubiquitous as to be hardly noticed at all, except as something we need to get through, to get to the other side. That is to say, an obstruction that must be dealt with, but hardly thought of once passed by.


It is perhaps a long way from the front gate of Troy to the front gate of one’s home, but many of the same rationale for such a barrier remains the same –to keep out, to regulate the passage through, to demarcate one’s boundaries from the rest of the world. We think today of the front gate through the lens of security, privacy, and less often, as the initial face of our domiciles to the approaching visitor.


It is to this last aspect this blog is dedicated – the manner in which our front gate welcomes, invites, makes a statement about what lies beyond. In these fear-filled times, such welcoming is heartening, gives small but needed hope to us in a small and hopeful way, extends our hand to the passers-by and the approaching visitor, says “yes, this is the boundary of what is mine, but allow me to welcome you across into my world, if only for a moment.”


Some gates are true barriers – solid, stolid, locked and impenetrable, while others are open, ephemeral, and easy to pass. Some are not present at all – more entry-way than gate-way, still, they serve to invite, entice, beguile, and tease, leading us into their embrace, coaxing us forward to the completion of our journey, or the beginning of the same.


There is no intent here to disparage the more common-appearing gate – the gate that merely continues the design of the fence itself – but to celebrate the gate and entryway that goes beyond the mere formalism of “gate” to become a small force to impel one onward, through the entrance, and into the small or endless beauty,  and comfort or adventure beyond. To celebrate the art of welcome, as I now welcome you, gentle neighbor, through the following portals, and into a friendly place.


Through here one may find welcome, and the heart be glad….


Front Gate in Literature – quotes and citations



“Don’t I know what it is to stand a-leanin’ over the front gate on a still spring mornin’, the smell of the lilacs in the air, and the brier roses. A dew sparklin’ on the grass under the maples, and the sunshine a-fleckin’ the ground between ’em, and the robins a-singin’ and the hummin’ birds a-hoverin’ round the honeysuckles at the door. And over all and through all, and above all clear and sweet, comin’ from fur off a-floatin’ through the Sabbath stillness, the sound of the bells, a-bringin’ to us sweet Sabbath messages of love and joy. Bringin’ memories too, of other mornin’s as fair and sweet, when other ears listened with us to the sound, other eyes looked out on the summer beauty, and smiled at the sound of the bells. Heavenly emotions, sweet emotions come to me on the melody of the bells, peaceful thoughts, inspirin’ thoughts of the countless multitude that has flocked together at the sound of the bells. The aged feet, the eager youthful feet, the children’s feet, all, all walkin’ to the sound of the bells. Thoughts of the happy youthful feet that set out to walk side by side, at their ringin’ sounds. Thoughts of the aged ones grown tired, and goin’ to their long dreamless sleep to their solemn sound. Thoughts of the brave hero’s who set out to protect us with their lives while the bells wuz ringin’ out their approval of such deeds. Thoughts of how they pealed out joyfully on their return bearin’ the form of Peace. Thoughts of how the bells filled the mornin’ and evenin’ air, havin’ throbbed and beat with every joy and every pain of our life, till they seem a part of us (as it were) and the old world would truly seem lonesome without ’em.



Samantha Among The Bretheren

Marietta Holley

Chapter 24


The place to take the test of a man is not the forum or field, not the marketplace
or the amen corner, but at his own fireside.  There he lays aside his mask
and you may judge whether he is imp or angel, king or cur, hero or humbug.
I care not what the world says of him, whether it crown him with bays
or pelt him with eggs; I care never a copper what his reputation or religion may be;
if his babes dread his homecoming and his better half has to swallow her heart
every time she asks him for a five dollar bill, he’s a fraud of the first water,
even though he prays night and morn until he is black in the face,
and howls hallelujah until he shakes the eternal hills.  But if his children rush
to the front gate meet him, and love’s own sunshine illumines the face
of his wife when she hears his footsteps, you may take it for granted
that he is true gold, for his home’s a heaven and the humbug
never got that close to the great white throne of God.


William Cowper Brann


I remember the evenings at my grandparents’ ranch, at Sagle, and how in the daytime we chased the barn cats and swung on the front gate and set off pitchy, bruising avalanches in the woodshed, and watched my grandmother scatter chicken seed from an apron with huge pockets in it, suffering the fractious contentment of town children rusticated. And then the cows came home and the wind came up and Venus burned through what little remained of atmosphere, and the dark and the emptiness stood over the old house like some unsought revelation.


Marilynne Robinson, “My Western Roots” (1993)



A visit to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery — not far from The Wayside and Orchard House — is a must because it is the final resting place of these famous Concord writers. Thoreau did the surveying for the cemetery’s pond and front gate, and his great friend, Emerson, gave the address at the formal consecration in 1855.

 “I learned this, at least, by my experiment, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in “Walden.”


A dog does not always bark at the front gate.

Spanish Proverb



  In this temper he emerged from behind the house nearest to his own, and, glancing toward the street, saw his mother standing with Eugene Morgan upon the cement path that led to the front gate. She was bareheaded, and Eugene held his hat and stick in his hand; evidently he had been calling upon her, and she had come from the house with him, continuing their conversation and delaying their parting.         52     

  They had paused in their slow walk from the front door to the gate, yet still stood side by side, their shoulders almost touching, as though neither Isabel nor Eugene quite realized that their feet had ceased to bear them forward; and they were not looking at each other, but at some indefinite point before them, as people do who consider together thoughtfully and in harmony. The conversation was evidently serious; his head was bent, and Isabel’s lifted left hand rested against her cheek; but all the significances of their thoughtful attitude denoted companionableness and a shared understanding. Yet, a stranger, passing, would not have thought them married: somewhere about Eugene, not quite to be located, there was a romantic gravity; and Isabel, tall and graceful, with high colour and absorbed eyes, was visibly no wife walking down to the gate with her husband.


Booth Tarkington (1838–1918).  The Magnificent Ambersons.  1918.       


How about you? Do you have any wonderful additions to this quotidian pile of quotations?


The Gate is Open

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