What tags should be attached to structures that are neither gates nor even gatehouses?

What tags should be attached to structures that is neither a gate nor a gatehouse?

What these structures have in common is that they are not intended to be controlling, but merely serve as signposts to mark the beginning of some area.
In that sense, they are similar to iljumun, hongsalmun, torii, and paifang. (Of course, these have other appropriate tags.)

What do we call these structures in English, or in your language?

e.g. 1

e.g. 2

e.g. 3

e.g. 4

  • In Korean…
    대문도 누대도 아닌 구조물에는 어떤 태그를 붙여야 할까요?
    이런 구조물을 한자 문화권에서는 ‘관문’(關門)이라고 합니다.('관문’은 물리적인 구조물일 수도 있지만 추상적인 영역의 시작을 말합니다.)
    그런 의미에서 일주문, 홍살문, 도리이, 패방과 비슷하다. (물론 여기에는 다른 적절한 태그가 있습니다.)
    이들 구조물의 공통점은 통제를 위한 것이 아니라 어떤 영역의 시작을 표시하는 이정표 역할(관문 역할)을 한다는 것입니다.(영어에서는 의미 상으로는 'gateway’가 가장 알맞을 것 같습니다.)

I wrote the following article while worrying about what could be the cause of this problem.
Isn’t the OSM tagging scheme is too difficult?



In Spanish they are called “arcos de entrada” (entrance archs) or simply “arcos” (archs). They are usually found at the entrance of important cities or capitals as a gateway. If they are merely ornamental and have no historical or commemorative significance, I think they could simply be tagged as building=roof + layer=1.

Entrance arch in Marbella, Spain (location). Source: Wikimedia Commons, image by Berthold Werner (CC BY-SA 3.0).

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Portal, I think? I get a lot of these when searching for images of portals.
Often as City portal, entrance portal, city entrance portal, but also stand alone ‘portal’.


In other places those structures are often called “gate” like the Abuja City Gate for instance which is tagged as historic=monument which I personally would prefer instead of building=roof, as these structures are not built to provide a roofing but to serve as some kind of monument.

Unfortunately historic=monument shall only be used for monuments commemorating someone ore something. So the appropriate tag could be tourism=artwork instead?

artwork_type=arc or gate or tower or portal whatever suits best

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this tag is for commemorative structures, not in general for monumental things. What about highway=archway? Or man_made=archway? I think they are typically related to highways

or highway=city_entrance?

Example 1 and 2 are clearly not monuments.

Regarding the artwork tag, it could be in some cases (example 3 looks like a large sculpture), although it could also be used tourism=attraction as additional tagging of the building (example 4 is a very attractive building for tourism).

It is logical that we approach the structure from different perspective with also different results.

For me, these are not structures intended to fulfill a highway-related function, such as highway=toll_gantry or man_made=gantry. Nor are they building=gatehouse type buildings: they do not have walls, they are basically a roof, although they look like gatehouses.

building=roof is OK for me.


Yep, I have pointed out already that “monument” cannot be the correct tag according to the wiki.

Nevertheless all this structures do not serve any “highway” related nor any “roofing” purpose. They are only existing as decorative elements without any useful function spanning over a road or standing somwhere besides like sample 3 pic.

A decorative structure or element without any practical use is normally called artwork even if not everybody may understand it as such. That is why I would favour tourism=artwork or maybe tourism=attraction (if it can be understood as an attraction in fact).

It would not be appropriate for examples 1 and 2.

IMHO building=roof would work well for all of them (except perhaps for example 3, which I’m not quite clear what it is, whether it’s a passage gate or a large sculpture).

If these two are not purely decorative structures like all the others I would be interested in the practical use you see in them. What are they serving for if not just decoration?

A roof is a building open on at least two sides. It does not need to have a practical use.

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Youah, that is the definition the wiki gives. Nevertheless I believe nobody would spend money to construct a roof without any use. If a rooflike construction does not serve any practical use it is build for decorative purpose and then it is a kind of artwork. Again not all of these structures are roof like as you have noted yourself. The structure in pic. # 3 or the Abuja City Gate are definitey no roofs and it would not make much sense imho to tag part of these structures as roof and others as tower or arc.

But well, it’s subject to interpretation as long as there is no documentation in the wiki for such element.

Note that the two points of view may not be mutually exclusive. There are conventional objects (of practical use) that can be artworks at the same time.

This is a very interesting discussion, although we would be getting off topic.

Picassian Seat, artwork (and bench) by Machú Harras in Malaga, Spain. Source: own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) available on Wikimedia Commons.

For me, these are not structures intended to fulfill a highway-related function, such as highway=toll_gantry or man_made=gantry.

while they don’t have a technical function (apparently, I wouldn’t be astonished if there were some surveillance cams attached in some cases), they serve as symbolic entrances for the highway

Thank you for your feedback.
The examples above are by no means representative of all similar structures, but I wanted to be as inclusive as possible.
Such things can be called ‘arch’ or ‘portal’, and can be viewed as artwork, and some have a monumental character.
But I don’t think any of them are enough to clearly represent all of their properties and forms, so I’m asking you for your opinion.

First e.g. 1 and e.g. 2 is difficult to call an artwork or a monument and does not have enough area to be called a ‘roof’ (some similar structures are barely linear).
I think the common characteristic of the structures I wanted to show is that they act as “gateways” (signaling that an area begins here).
There are already other appropriate tags, but something similar in East Asia would be Iljumun, Hongsalmun, Torii, and Paifang. These are also intended to mark the beginning of a territory and have religious significance.
(The difference is that the above examples only mark the beginning of a territory).


  1. How to tag an arch **symbolising** entry to area
  2. [Tagging] mapping large memorial objects that roads pass through.
  3. Talk:Tag:man made=torii - OpenStreetMap Wiki

“Arch” has issue in some of these not being curved archs.


The area occupied by the building can be large or small. It does not appear that the area occupied is a significant factor in considering whether an object is a building (roof) or not. There are also roofs that are much longer than wide.

That makes sense to me. I think that’s their function in most cases. They are something similiar to a gatehouse, but these gateways do not have walls, they are just a roof:

building=gatehouse is used to tag an entry control point building, spanning over a highway that enters a city or compound.

Many/some have no roof at all (can’t hide from the rain there); many/some are not touristic, many/some are not historical; many/some are not artwork or even decorative. Many/some are not curved; many/some are structures but not buildings. Many/some give access to areas; many/some give access to important highways. Many/some have some kind of function; many/some are just elaborate name signs.

I would stick with man_made=portal. I think that covers all variants.

Want to be more specific?
man_made=portal & portal=

And/Or add decorative=yes, artwork=yes, building=yes, inscription=, name=

I would like to clarify one thing by taking advantage of your comment. Some contributors sometimes misunderstand my tagging suggestions because I certainly don’t explain the limited scope from which I am suggesting.

When someone asks for a tagging suggestion, I always try to suggest an approved tag or one with a widely accepted usage by the community. I don’t usually suggest new tags, which does not mean that they cannot be used.

If an object needs a new tag, go ahead. If someone makes a formal proposal, I will consider it.

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:+1: Same with me, as long as there is a tag suiting the issue.

Why do you think so? Because these structures are not as decorative as #3 oer #4? You have to be aware that artwork in public places not necessarily looks like art in common sense or is really decorative, as you can see at these examples:



and there are lots more. I still consider any object set up in public places by a governmental office or agency which does not serve any practical purpose to be understood as artwork, even if it may look like some scrap forgotten by error to one or the other visitor.

Nevertheless I would not have a problem with a tag like man_made=portal although #3 does not look like a portal to me, more like a tower folded down by stomach pain … :wink: … isn’t that artwork?

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I think that’s also the tagging I would use. (arc/gate/entrance/portal/whatever) We don’t have these gates over here, though.