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The Reichstag or Parliamentary Building is one of the most symbolic buildings in Berlin. It was opened in 1894 and housed the parliament until 1933 when it was destroyed by a fire started by the Nazis. It was then further damaged during World War II.
From 1994–99 the Reichstag was reconstructed and extended by the architect Norman Forster. Since then it is again the seat of the German Bundestag or federal government and, with its stunning new dome, it is one of the city's biggest tourist attractions.
The beautiful dome or cupola is so worth a visit. A ramp winds its way up to the top, where you can enjoy fabulous views over the city, whilst exclaiming over the beauty of this open-aired structure. The mirror-clad funnel in the middle of the dome is great for taking quirky photos!
Be prepared for a queue to enter the building. We arrived at 10am and had to queue for an hour - outside, inside, security checks, elevator - before we made it to the dome.
Don't forget to photograph the huge German flag that flies proudly at the front of the building. It was first flown at the official celebrations of German reunifications in 1990.
The dome is open daily from 8am - 10pm and admission is free.
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The early bird gets to see Reichstag! :)
Reichstag is the meeting place of the German parliament, the "Bundestag". As a tourist, there are "main points" of the Reichstag: the dome and the rooftop terrace. At the top of the building is the Reichstag dome which has a 360-degree view of Berlin, which is completely free and open to all visitors. The roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building are open from 8:00am to midnight daily (the last admission is at 10:00pm).
Possibly becuase of the view, or because it's a free site to see, the Reichstag almost ALWAYS has a long waiting line. GET THERE EARLY! I waited in line for about 45-60 mins to get a chance to go up to the dome. Once inside the building, all visitors go through a brief security check and then take an elevator up to the dome. Once at dome-level, audio headsets are provided in a variety of different languages. The dome itself has a hurricane looking glass sculpture up its center that is open at the top and allows natural light down to the parliament's meeting room. It's quite a site to see! :)
"My most intimate experience of the building previous to this, was in Call of Duty's excellent recreation of the Soviet's Storming of the Reichstag, and seeing it in all its restored glory gave me a momentary flashback. Sitting in the enormous Tiergarten, taking a well earned rest from Hanno's concrete jungle safari, my eyes glazed over as I remembered charging bravely through the building's doors, courageously fending off a spirited German defence, before climbing to the roof to heroically plant the Soviet flag for all the world to see. This imagery contrasted markedly from the tranquil scene we experienced, lazing in the unusually warm October sun, almost completely alone in the entire grounds in front of the building. I thought this was quite amazing for such an important national treasure." - from my travelogue
Just on the western side of the Brandenburg Gate is the Reichstag, or Bundestag as it is now officially know. Built in 1894 as the parliament for the German republic, the Reichstag is once again the seat of government for a unified Germany, after the government of the country was split between Bonn and East Berlin for four decades. The building is set in the enormous and peaceful grounds of the Tiergarten (animal garden), wedged right up against what used to be the Berlin wall.
The Reichstag has had a colorful and eventful, if relatively short, history. Most people will have heard of the Burning of the Reichstag, the event of 1933 that Hitler used as a pretext for seizing power. The building was again the stage of huge drama, when 12 years later the Soviets beat the British and Americans to the prize, and finished off the German resistance in the Storming of the Reichstag. After re-unification, the building was subject to a $11 billion refurbishment, by British architect Sir Norman Foster, who included the controversial glass dome on the roof, which has since proved extremely popular.
Book in advance
Since our last visit to Berlin the Reichstag building had acquired its glistening new dome, the work of Norman Foster. As an admirer of his work, and a fan of “new meets old” architecture, I was keen to tour the dome and to see what are reputed to be the great views from within. Unfortunately the information that new restrictions are in place, meaning that only pre-booked visits are allowed, was buried rather deeply in the official website, and so when we turned up (early in the morning as advised by our guidebook and other VTers) we found that we were unable to go in. And by the time we returned to our hotel that evening and went online to book, the earliest slot we could have got was for the morning of our departure. So, no tour of the Reichstag dome on this occasion – one of several reasons to go back to Berlin sooner rather than later!
The Reichstag was built in the 1880s to house the German parliament, which it did until 1933 when it was damaged by fire. It was further damaged by bombing raids during the Second World War and afterwards it remained unused; the German Democratic Republic was governed from Berlin, but not from the Reichstag which lay in the West, but from the Palace of the Republic, while the Federal Republic of Germany was governed from the Bundeshaus in Bonn. The building remained in ruins until the 1960s when the government of the West decided to restore it, despite no longer using it as a parliament building. When we first saw it, in 1985, it was in this restored condition, and I didn’t realise at the time that it was missing its original domed roof or cupola.
After reunification it was decided that the seat of government for the newly restored single Germany should be Berlin, despite fierce opposition from Bonn. A further reconstruction was planned and Norman Foster won the contract, with his design eventually adding the striking glass dome as a replacement for the original cupola.
- Historical Travel
The central dome and most of the ornamentation were removed during the reconstruction after the war. After the unification the decision was made to move the Bundestag from Bonn back to Berlin. This decision resulted in the latest reconstruction which started in 1995 and was completed in 1999. The design by Sir Norman Foster added a glass dome over the plenary hall. At first the subject of much controversy, the dome has become one of the city's most recognized landmarks. Since April 1999, the Reichstag is once again the seat of the Bundestag. You can visit the Reichstag and walk all the way to the top of the dome. Eye-catching and a masterpiece of modern technology, the dome is one of the main attractions of the Reichstag building. The figures alone are impressive – 23.5 metres high and 40 metres in diameter. A total of 800 metric tonnes of steel were used in the construction and the outer shell consists of 3000 square metres of glass. The dome of the Reichstag building is accessible for the visitor by two ramps leading up from the roof terrace, offering an amazing panorama over the city of Berlin (open daily from 8 am until 12 pm). The dome houses the sophisticated ventilation and lighting systems for the assembly room.
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Site of the Bundestag (German Parliament)
Everybody runs to the Reichstag when visiting Berlin. Of course not because anybody in the world would appreciate the attitude of politicians. No - everybody wants to get up to the crystal cupola of Germany’s Parliamentary Building which itself is spectacular and secondly, offers great views.
So also we headed there first thing in the morning, to avoid the endless queues. In fact, the queue was not very long – but it did not move. And then we discovered a sign telling us that the dome was closed for maintenance the whole week. Bugger! Depite this disappointment we would have visited Parliament – if the queue had moved. So we left – although we were too early for the Raum der Stille at Brandenburg Gate, too early for the museum at the Holocaust Memorial, and nearly too early for the Sony Centre LOL
As Reichstag is just some steps from Brandenburger Tor, and surrounded by other important government buildings like the Federal Chancellery (Kanzleramt), such an inconvenience does not matter. You can immediately change your plans, and as the new U-Bahn station is in service in the meantime, you can also quickly get to other quarters of the city.
The Reichstag building itself has an atmosphere of grandeur, with its stately neo-classical shell and the lots of columns. The British architect Sir Norman Foster created the spectacular building within those historic walls. The most striking feature is, as already mentioned, the massive glass dome above the plenary hall. And if it is open… you can take one of the elevators to the rooftop viewing terrace, and walk inside the mirror-clad cupola on a spiralling ramp into the tip of the dome. On the level of the viewing terrace there is a café from where you already have a nice view.
The elevators operate from 8am until midnight – but the last admission is at 10pm.
If you are at Reichstag you might as well visit the Wall Victims Memorial, south of Reichstag, at the start of Scheidemannstraße. It reminds of the 191 people who died trying to climb to freedom over the Wall.
Update March 2012 - and update of the update in July 2012
Since my last visit the rules have changed. Now bookings are required for visiting the Reichstag, even if you only want to visit the dome. For a while this had to be made no later than two working days before your visit - but lately it has changed again to at least TWO HOURS before the visit.
The reason for the need to book is the ongoing terrorist threats to blow up the Reichstag dome.
Details in my tip about the queues in front of Reichstag: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1b1d7a/
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The No.1 Architectural Masterpiece of Berlin!
This is one of the most impressive experiences of Berlin for every visitor.
Here is my own personal impression:
I got there at 08:30 AM, the queue was "only" 45 minutes long (it can get to 90 min and more)! I passed a thorough security check, by a guard who had a few words to say to every visitor in his own native language (including Hebrew)!
I took the elevator to the roof and absorbed the most magnificent views of Berlin; the city looks very photogenic from this angle, with views of the Bundestag and Chancellor's buildings, the Spree river with tour-boats cruising on it, an S-Bahn making its way above the rooftops to the Hauptbahnhof, former East Berlin with its landmarks all the way to the Fernsehturm.
I admired the wonderful transparent glass and metal dome, entered it and studied the photograph exhibition telling the history of the Reichstag and the Bundestag, with so many historic moments and events entwined in it, events which have left their mark on world history.
I started climbing the gently sloping ramp to the top of the dome, enjoying the constantly changing perspective of the inside and the outside.
When I left the Reichstag the queue was already 90 minutes long... But even if this is the case when you arrive there, don't deapir and don't give up: It's definitely worth it!!!
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Talks on the visitors` gallery of the plenary cham
Talks are held on the visitors` gallery of the plenary chamber of the German Bundestag during weeks when parliament is not sitting. 45-minute talk on the functions, working methods and composition of parliament, as well as the history and architecture of the Reichstag Building, followed by a discussion It was an interesting experience to be in the plenary chamber.
- Family Travel
Reichstag -- I
The Reichstag is a marvel of historical re-construction and re-imagination, a governmental landmark for the 21st century. On a brisk day in November, it gleams in the afternoon sunlight. No doubt modern Germany faces many problems, economic, social, political. But they certainly have a governmental center to be proud of.
The Reichstag Building
The Reichstag building was first opened in 1894 and was used as the parliament of the unified Germany. It was set on fire a couple of months after the Nazis came to power, bombed during WW2, fought over by the Soviets and left a ruin until the 1960’s. It was rebuilt minus the dome. When the country was reunited it was decided the new capital would once again be Berlin and the building was given a make over with the new glass dome. The building is worth a visit with good views from the roof and walking up the inside of the dome. This is a popular tourist spot and the Reichstag Building is open between 0800 & midnight. A restaurant is also located in the dome. You now have to register online at least 2 days before an intended visit (there are sometimes visits available with 2 hours notice via the services centre which is close to the building), telephone registration is not allowed. This can be done via the link below which also includes further information about visiting.
- Historical Travel
Parliament (Reichtag) is one of the most impressive building in Berlin. It was constructed in 1871. In 1933 it is known for a "famous" fire, when probably it was fired by Nazis and made them as one of the most popular party in Germany.
After Second World War it was badly damaged, later was not used by purpose, as the parliament was moved to Boon. Only in 1990 it was remodeled by Norman Foster with its famous solution of cupola. It is probably the most interesting thing for this building. I needed a registration to get there, as everyone guess through security check. Visiting copula is a must in Berlin I think.
Dem Deutschen Volke
The Reichstag, the seat of the German Parliament, is one of Berlin's most historical landmarks. It is close to the Brandenburger Tor and before the unification, it was right next to the wall.After the founding of the German Empire in 1872, there was a need for a large parliamentary building in Berlin. Paul Wallot designed an imposing neo-renaissance building, 137 m long and 97m wide.
It was constructed between 1884 and 1894, mainly funded with wartime reparation money from France. The famous inscription 'Dem Deutschen Volke' (To the German People) was only added in 1916.In 1933 fire broke out in the building, destroying much of the Reichstag. It is to date still unclear who started the fire, but the Communists were blamed. It gave a boost to Hitler's Party, the NSDAP, who would soon come to power. The building was even further damaged at the end of the war, when the Soviets entered Berlin. The picture of a Red Army Soldier raising the Soviet flag on the Reichstag is one of the most famous 20th century images and symbolized Germany's defeat.
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A Little Bit of History
From the history lessons at highschool I remember that after World War I Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the German Republic from one of the Reichstag windows – between two spoonfuls of soup, as our teacher told us… (He was famous for his authentic reports – as if he had attended all important events of the world… He made us smile – but as you see, it has helped to remember the facts…)
Then there was the Reichstag fire in the night of 27 to 28 February 1933 which destroyed large sections of the building, and Hitler blamed the communists. Finally Soviet bombs gave it the rest in 1945. Restoration took from 1961 to 1972. The glass dome was added in the mid 1990’s.
At midnight on 2 October 1990 Germany’s reunification was enacted at this historic place. (3 October has become the new national holiday in Germany. Until 1990 it was on 17 June, reminding of the national uprising in GDR on this day in 1953. You might have noticed that the westward alley from Brandenburger Tor is named Straße des 17. Juni.)
In 1995 the artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, wrapped the edifice in fabric for two weeks.
The German Parliament – which had been located in the small town of Bonn on the Rhine during the separation - is sitting there since 1999. Before this move the building had hosted an exhibition of German history which has been relocated to the German Dome at Gendarmenmarkt.
The Reichstag, designed by Paul Wallot, was built from 1884 to 1894.
Free guided tours of the Reichstag are available but you have to make a booking.
This is not possible by telephone anymore. The visitor centre (Besucherdienst Deutscher Bundestag) will give you only information about closures of the dome by phone (030) 22 73 21 52 and 22 73 59 08.
Bookings by Fax, mail or via the online booking form.
Info for visits when Parliament is sitting: http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/besgrupp/plen.html
Info for guided tours when Parliament is not sitting:
Online registration form:
Foreign language tours are available for groups of more than six people. Maximum 25 people.
- Historical Travel
To the German People....
.... and anyone else who can be bothered to queue up for hours outside...
Originally the seat of Parliament of the former German Empire, built in 1894 was completely renovated by Sir Norman Foster in 1999 and is once again the home of the Deutscher Bundestag.
As time was of the essence, I couldn't bring myself to queue indefinitely although on another trip I might. I stood around for quite some time but didn't see the line move once so I don't know how long it takes to actually get inside the building.
Please check the link for more information about the history.
- Historical Travel
Dem Deutsche Volke
Reichstag monument, a neo-renaissance building, 137 m long and 97m wide.
constructed between 1884 and 1894, with French war money. After finishing this building they started to built the Berliner Dom
The famous inscription 'Dem Deutschen Volke' (To the German People) was only added in 1916. Also interesting is to know that the complete building was wraped or stretched by the famous artist Christo and his wife Jeanne in 1995.
It is worthed to go inside and have a look at the glass dome
Since April 1999, the Reichstag is once again the seat of the Bundestag.
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