Berlin Must-Sees: The Reichstag

30 08 2007

The Reichstag is the seat of the German Bundestag (federal government), near Brandenburg Gate at the west end of the Mitte quarter. It was constructed from 1884-1894 by the architect Paul Wallot. The inscription “Dem Deutschen Volke” was added in 1916, during WW1.

Dem Deutschen Volke.


On 27 February 1933 fire broke out in the building, destroying much of it. Hitler, then Chancellor of Germany, blamed the communists, and convinced President Hindenburg to sign a decree that annulled most of the civil liberties. Six days after the fire Germany held the last parliamentary elections of the Weimar Republic, in which the Nazi party got 43% of the votes. Not much longer after that, Hitler turned the country into a dictatorship.

After the war, the building was rebuilt according to plans by the architect Paul Baumgarten, but was not used as a parliament building (the Bundestag was located in Bonn), but rather contained the exhibition “Questions on German History”, which is now displayed in the Duetscher Dom. Its dome was not rebuilt.

After the reunification, it was reconstructed and extended by the architect Sir Norman Forster, who added the glass dome, which represents the transparency of the German democracy. Since 1999 it is once again the seat of the German Bundestag.

Reichstag. Another angle.

Reichstag area. The dome from a weird angle.

Visitors can enter the dome and look down on the parliament hall, and there are also tours and talks, about which you can read here.

We found the line to the Reichstag too long for our taste, and to tell you the truth, we’re pretty fed up with politics in our state to bother about politics in another state. Although we were quite impressed by the “open door day” to the government offices, upon which we stumbled in 2006.

Tag der Offnen Tür.

There is a restaurant called Käfer am Bundestag at the top of the Reichstag. I couldn’t find any decent reviews of it, but I’m guessing it’s not one of the cheapest restaurants in the city.

Opening Hours: daily 8:00 to 24:00 (last entrance 22:00). New Year’s Eve 8:00 to 16:00. Dome closed: March 12-18, July 16-22, July 30-August 5, August 13-19, October 15-21, December 24 and December 31, 2007 from 4 pm.

Free entrance.


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