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

I too think that #1 and #2 are not artworks. I agree, however, that artworks are not always merely decorative or aesthetically “pretty” objects, so to speak.

I am photographically documenting memorials and public artworks in my city to add them to the map. Some of these objects have given me a lot of thought about the limits of a memorial or an public artwork. This would get off topic for this thread, although it is an interesting topic too. When I finish documenting all the memorials and public artworks in my city (if I ever finish), I would like to put my thoughts in order and write something about it.

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hi. Thanks to @Kovoschiz for cross linking!

which sounds like suggesting man_made=gateway.

If there is nothing to be closed or opened, is it still a gateway?

All of your comments have been very helpful and appreciated.
I think most of them make sense, and that makes the problem I’ve been struggling with even bigger.
I think there will always be issues like this because of the inconsistency of OSM tags.
I’ll try to organize my thoughts and post them again, but you guys are welcome to continue the discussion.
I’ll link to it below this post when I get it organized and posted.
Thanks, everyone.

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I deeply agree with your thoughts.
I wonder if it’s because OSM tags were created or are being used based on abstract and subjective criteria.

You have best summarized the point of my concern.

I wanted a tag that would allow me to specify a structure that acts as a ‘gateway’, and I also had in mind a key value of ‘gateway’ if needed, but the word ‘gateway’ is pretty abstract.

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

I’d like to hear other people’s opinions.

If we say so, yes. In my interpretation, too. If we stick to literal dictionary meaning then we’re having a problem. Let’s define the OSM meaning in the wiki.

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I would treat any purely decorative gate like structure as “portal” or man_made=portal.

=portal is too vague. It looks applicable to tunnel portal structures.
tourism= doesn’t have to be “touristic” due to the extensive use. Here there is a more emphasis on its functionality of symbolizing transition. man_made= is better left for structures, and you could use existing =torii etc (others can figure out if it is needed to group these arch-like structures later) or building=roof (when it is a roof) together with this feature for compatibility.
The structures are not always a transitional chokepoint. Eg a torii can be placed far away, or in waters outside (eg Miyajima is still more recognizable at the mouth of the bay directly facing the shrine; but Oarai has one out in the sea separated by a road and other buildings on the shoreline, and has its own torii on the inland side of the road at the stairs). It may be debated whether walkways lined with torii (as in Fushimi Inari Taisha) fits the definition. The functionality is more ascertained when it is a shrine gate, location border, or other access point and corridors.

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yes, you might use building=roof on some, but it is definitely not the tag I would primarily rely on to classify the structure. I would consider all of them “structures”, so man_made is generally a suitable key candidate.

One of the questions is whether we tag them only by shape and maybe direct function (shelter/roof) or also by abstract function (entrace gate to a settlement or other area / welcome sign) and if we tag both, in the same tag or with different tags?

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Why is it a problem that =portal is applicable to tunnel portals?
Aren’t the portals man_made structures?
Doesn’t a portal always mean a (literal or symbolic) transition? That’s the whole point of any portal, I think?
If mappers want to clarify which type of portal it is, the usual breakdown method can be applied:
man_made=portal & portal=*

Other specifications can always be added as secundary tags e.g. building=yes, artwork=yes, material=*


Less exciting response from a UK English speaker…they are gates. As a synonym, you could stretch to gateways.


I’m also thinking about ‘gateway’, although it’s fairly semantics-oriented, but it’s very rarely used.
I think ‘portal’, which is a bit more form-oriented, is also quite acceptable.
But what do you guys think?

Screenshot 2023-03-21 at 17-34-55 man_made gateway Tags OpenStreetMap Taginfo

Screenshot 2023-03-21 at 17-34-05 man_made portal Tags OpenStreetMap Taginfo

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See also how should I tag an archway over a road?.

I have a vague recollection of tags being proposed for this that covered the “short wall and gateposts that never meant to have gates on them” version too, but I can’t remember what threadntust was in.


Variations on the (im)possible tagging

gantry=… to include per TI gantry=welcome



The wikis description currently leaves hardly any room, but always could be stretched.

Two more options.

  • building=gate is used 341 times (example 1, 2) though a lot of different structures also have this tag, including gates at airports and some that should maybe be tagged as gatehouse or guardhouse (that someone sits inside, to check your ticket or permit to enter an area).
  • building=arch is used 50 times (3, 4) though the word does not convey the function as an entrance to an area

Can I ask why they are not gates? If it marks the entrance to something, doesn’t that make it a gate? Even if it can’t be closed because it doesn’t have doors.


IMHO we should use 2 tags, one to say it is a kind of monumental welcome sign / entrance to a city or quarter or similar, and another one to say which shape it has.


Thank you for your words.
I was trying to use a generic, usage-specific phrase.
In the English-speaking world, as well as in East Asia, “gate” is not only a physical thing, but it can also mean “gateway” or “huddle”.

You mean something like building=gate for the structure and man_made=boundary_arch for the function?

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my reading of @dieterdreist words is:

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