The building that houses the German parliament is one of the most interesting spots in the city, mainly because of its famous modern dome. Why sometimes is it called Reichstag and sometimes Bundestag? Neither of the two names is accurate, although the former is more correct: the Reichstag was the name given to the German parliament since 1871, but disappeared in 1942. Currently, the German parliament is called Bundestag.
It was built between 1884 and 1894 next to the Tiergarten, with the aim of holding the German government. It suffered a major fire in 1933, and was seriously damaged during the Second World War. Its central dome disappeared completely, and although the building was early restored, the dome was not rebuilt until the 90s: the famous architect Norman Foster made a spectacular modernist design.
It is also a great example of new technologies: solar energy is used, collects rainwater and the land is used to keep the building warm.
Once you accessed, you’ll be given a free audio guide (choice of 11 languages); for 20 minutes it provides interesting details of the building, the activity of Parliament and the views of the city seen from the terrace.
There are three possible ways to visit:
- Those who access without prior reservation only will be able to visit the dome and the terrace where it is located.
- Booking in advance also offers:
- Guided tours of various types.
- Possibility of attending a plenary session.
ACCESSING THE BUILDING
- Open from 8 am to 12 am (last admission at 10 pm). Every 15 minutes.
- Access is free, but prior registration is required:
- Internet (by now there is not web version for smartphones) on the official website.
- Or at a small information kiosk (so small that it goes unnoticed) that is approximately 300 meters away west on Scheidemannstrase, next to a restaurant. No reservations with more than two days in advance are accepted. This kiosk opens:
- 8 am to 8 pm from April 1 to October 31.
- And from 8 am to 6 pm from November 1 to March 31.
- An official identity card or passport is essential. Once registered, you will be assigned a day and time for the visit, within the availability.
- There is a restaurant on the terrace. It can not be accessed without reservation:
- Phone number: +49 (0) 30 226-29933
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sessions of the Bundestag can be seen from the outside through the windows at the base of the center column of the dome, or from other ones downstairs.
If access is requested in advance, there is the possibility of attending a plenary session from an enabled visitors balcony. Last about an hour and there is no translators service. The schedule of meetings varies, but can only be visited for a few hours from Wednesday to Friday.
The main point of interest. It could have been a fiasco, but nothing could be further from reality, it fits perfectly with the classicism of the building, creating an image of solidity, classic beauty and modern and dynamic look all at once. The intention was precisely to get away from the violent past that was associated to the building. It has become one of the major tourist attractions in Berlin.
It is fully glazed. In the center there is a column covered in mirrors that rises wider at the top than at the base. You can walk to the top through a beautiful spiral ramp. The set is superb.
VERY important fact: the dome is cleaned 3 times a year for 5 consecutive days, remaining closed to the public. I mean is very important, because it happened to us the second time.