Famous and Remarkable Doors Around the World
Doors are symbolic of opportunity and unique possibility. Some famous doors have been considered symbolic gateways to other worlds. Throughout history men have placed inscriptions on doorways, which invited guests while warding off the unwelcome. Doors have been designed to honor gods, kings, and even women. They have been intricately carved with lions, dragons, and deities, to serve as both warning and greeting.
Gate of Ishtar
Around 600 BC Nebuchadnezzar built this powerful blue glazed brick gate. He emblazoned on the door the image of the dragon of Marduk. Also featured on the famous gate are golden lions and bulls. The Gate is 15 meters high 10 meters wide, and features a 60 line dedication inscription.
- Ishtar Gate: A historical background piece about the gate
- Ishtar Gate Inscription: A translation of the inscription over the door
- Ishtar Gate Pictures: A discussion of the symbol of the dragon
Aeolipile Temple and Cathedral Doors
As the need for larger and more impressive doors grew during the classical period, a new problem arose. People were not strong enough to open the giant doors. Heron of Alexandria (10-70 AD) found a solution. He invented the Aeolipile, which was actually a small steam engine used to power an ancient form of automatic doors. Though this steam engine was invented in the first century it remained largely unused until the industrial revolution.
- Heron of Alexandria’s Invention: New York Times book review discusses the Aeolipile
- The Writings of Heron: See a page on the Aeolipile, and click index to access the book
- A Photo of an Aeolipile: See a picture of the first automatic door opening device
Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica
The Holy Door or “Door of the Great Pardon” is sealed with a brick wall. Every 25 years the Pope strikes the brick with a silver hammer, and symbolically opens it. It remains open for the entire year which is the holy year or Jubilee. At the end of the year the brick wall is rebuilt. The Holy Door represents Jesus, as a gate to heaven and salvation. The 16 panels of the door depict scenes of sin and redemption. The inscriptions above the door commemorate the most recent door openings.
- The 16 Panels: Photos of the panels
- Virtual Tour: Online photo tour of St. Peter’s Basilica
Imperial Door of the Hagia Sophia
Once plated in gold and used exclusively by the emperor, today these towering oak doors are covered with ornate bronze plates and used by tourists. Though looted and plundered and occasionally shaken by earthquakes these doors have stood since 537 CE. The mosaic above the door also serves as an inscription. “Peace be with you. I am the light of the world,” can be read plainly on the book Christ holds. A representation of the emperor bows before him.
- Virtual Tour of the Hagia Sophia: 360 degree panoramic views of interior and exterior
- Hagia Sophia Facts and Thoughts: Pictures, facts and a petition
- Tours of Hagia Sophia: Detailed information on Hagia Sophia
- Hagia Sophia History: Article on history and architecture
Entry to Coral Castle
One of the most interesting doors of modern time is the source of great mystery, as is the otherworldly castle behind it. The door is made of a single coral block weighing nine tons. It is 80 inches wide, 92 inches tall and 21 inches thick. Amazingly the balance is so perfect it pivots open with the light touch of a finger. Edward Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant, built Coral Castle as a tribute his ex-fiance Agnes Scuffs. Ed spent 28 years (1923-1951) working entirely alone by lantern light with no modern equipment. How he moved over 1,100 tons of coral rock blocks weighting many tons each remains a mystery. Coral Castle is located in Homestead, Florida.
- Coral Castle Museum: Official site for touring Coral Castle
- Coral Castle Information: The History Channel offers an extensive report with pictures
- Mystery of Coral Castle: A discussion of how 100 pound Ed Leedskalnin moved 1,100 tons of coral rock.