There is hardly any other building where so many important political decisions were made in the past as in the Berlin Reichstag. Today, the historically valuable site offers a magnificent view over the German capital.
The spectacular Reichstag building is one of our top 10 sights of Berlin and Germany. Located near the Brandenburg Gate , it has once again been the seat of the German Bundestag since 1990.
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PICTURES: Reichstag in Berlin
Photo gallery: Reichstag in Berlin
Origin of the Berlin Reichstag
The Reichstag was built at the end of the 19th century according to the plans of the German architect Paul Wallot. The reason for this was the appointment of Berlin as the capital of the Reich in 1871, which resulted in the need for a seat of government for the newly created parliament. Wallot combined elements of Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism in the building.
However, the then ruling Emperor Wilhelm II was not at all pleased with the project, as he was not really enthusiastic about the construction of a people's representation. So it is not surprising that he ordered the dome on the building to be smaller than planned, so that its dimensions did not exceed those of the dome of the Berlin Palace.
Even the gable inscription "Dem Deutschen Volke" ("To the German People"), which still adorns the Reichstag building today, was not added until 1916, as the Kaiser considered it too democratic at the time.
The Reichstag building has repeatedly been the scene of important historical events over the course of time. For example, on November 9, 1918, SPD politician Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the Republic from the building's balcony, and on April 30, 1945, Red Army soldiers raised the red flag of the Soviet Union, symbolizing the end of World War II.
Like so many other buildings, the Reichstag building did not survive the 1930s and 1940s undamaged. In 1933, the plenary hall, in which the very first session of the federal government had taken place, and the dome burned out completely. During the war, the entire building was severely damaged and was not restored until the late 1950s.
Reconstruction of the Reichstag
In 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag became the venue for the reunification celebrations. A few years later, a second phase of reconstruction began according to the designs of the British architect Sir Norman Foster, which ended with the first session of the Bundestag in 1999.
The most striking innovation is the gigantic glass dome, which is now a popular attraction for tourists from all over the world. Inside it, two staircases wind upwards, leading visitors to the observation deck and the roof terrace. There you can relax in the restaurant or café with a wonderful view over all of Berlin; however, it pays to reserve a seat in advance.
Visit to the Reichstag in Berlin
The building, including the glass dome, can be visited at any time, but registration is required. The observation deck, restaurant and café are open to the public. Exhibitions are held in the Reichstag building from time to time.
In front of the Reichstag, a spacious green area was created for Berliners as well as tourists to rest, picnic, play soccer or make music.
Tip: Look out for a historically significant little tree in front of the Reichstag building. Called the "Peace Linden Tree," it commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany in 1989.
Visit to the German Bundestag
Official website of the restaurant on the roof garden of the Bundestag