July 23, 2008 / 10:51 PM / in 11 years

FACTBOX: Berlin's Victory Column, site of Obama speech

(Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is to deliver a speech at the Victory Column in the centre of Berlin on Thursday.

The venue was agreed as a compromise after the Obama campaign originally considered holding the event at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, about 2 km (1.2 miles) away. Conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear she would frown upon using the Gate, a symbol of German unity, for “electioneering”.

Following are a few facts on the Victory Column.

* The 230 foot (70 meter) high Victory Column was built to celebrate 19th century Prussian military victories over Denmark, France and Austria. It is decorated by cannons captured from Prussia’s enemies and is topped by a gold-colored statue of a winged female figure representing victory.

* The statue was originally situated in front of the Reichstag parliamentary building, but it was moved during the Nazi era in preparation for Adolf Hitler’s monumental plans to rebuild Berlin as the new capital city Germania.

A major tourist attraction, the monument is now located in Berlin’s Tiergarten park, at the centre of a busy intersection on an East-West axis that leads to the Brandenburg Gate.

* In sight of the Gate, the Victory Column has been the backdrop to large public events in past years, including a giant public viewing area during the 2006 Soccer World Cup held in Germany, gay pride parades and the “Love Parade” music festival.

Reporting by Kerstin Gehmlich

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