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Ahhh the Reichstag, I remember fighting my way up it and placing my Russian Flag on the top. Oh well, although I saw the Reichstag at the end of Call of Duty World at War, I had never seen it in that scary place called real life, until a week or so ago.
Before I even went to Berlin I knew that I wanted to go up into the dome on the top of the Reichstag. After the Reichstag suffered damage it was only partially repaired and refurbished. It was not until the reunification of Germany that the famous architect Sir Norman Foster designed the dome that we see now. The dome, although causing controversy at the time, is now what draws tourists to this historic building. NOTE: This review will mostly focus on the dome itself, you can do a more thorough tour, but visiting the dome is the most common way of 'visiting the Reichstag'.
After queuing for a while you will eventually make it to the main doors in which you will not have to buy any tickets because the German Taxpayer pays for you instead. Inside you will go through security in which is much like airport security. Then you will queue for a tiny bit longer to enter the rather large lifts. Once the small lift 'journey' is over you can queue again for the optional audio guides.
As you enter the dome you will see a large cone of mirrors with glass below. These mirrors provide light for the room below containing purple seats, which is where the German Parliament resides. There is also a large 'shield', which I thought was decorative, but after further investigation moves automatically to block out the sun if it is too strong, as to not blind the German politicians. Around the glass in the middle of the dome in which you can see the purple seats, there is a display of text and picture of the Reichstag through the ages.
Also inside the dome is a small stall-vendor who sells soft drinks and snacks. Just in case you are feeling hungry/thirsty after all that sightseeing.
There are two ramps that are on a slight incline and that spiral up the dome. Each ramp is one-way, which is nice as it means you do not have to negotiate oncoming traffic as you enjoy your panoramic view of Berlin. At the top there is a viewing platform with a large 'thing' in the middle. I have no idea what it does, but as the very top if the dome has a small opening I assume it collects rainwater.
Now this is the part where you get a great little tip. On top of the Reichstag, next to the dome, is a café/restaurant. Here you can see the Berlin skyline, but also enjoy a great selection of cakes and gateaus, wines, hot chocolate or even a full meal! Everything in the café/restaurant is nice and expensive looking: There are waiters dressed in suits, and a display of the cakes on offer. The food isn't exactly cheap (I remember it being 3.60 Euros for a slice of cake), but you're on holiday!
Ok here's the tip. You can reserve a table at a certain time in the café/restaurant (reservation is free!). "So what?" You're thinking. Well... if you have reserved, you can skip the queue, this is the queue that can stretch right down the field in front of the Reichstag and can take hours to proceed through. With your confirmation email you can enter through the west door (on a compass, it's actually to the right of the main door, behind the right ramp). This is also the accessible entrance. To book a table, just drop a friendly email to:
BE WARNED: If you would like an audio guide, get one before you enter the café, as you cannot get back through to get the audio guides.
For more information on the Reichstag visit:
Visited here with my husband , there were small queues but nothing too bad. It is totally free to go in but you do have to pass through various security measures. Lots of glass doors and secure areas to pass through. The security is impressive but would need to be i expect being the seat of German Bundestag (parliament to you and i) . I was frisked very enthusiastically by a nice german lady!
It has seen some changes due to fire and the original dome was blown up in 1945 and never being rebuilt until the recent addition of the glass dome which is really impressive. The walk up into it is fun and the views outstanding.
You can look all over Berlin and also relax in the rooftop terrace which is lovely eben in the winter months (we were there in February) Looking over the snowladened Berlin from there was really gorgeous.
You can look over Parliament when in session which was fun to watch from the gallery above and can even join in role playing games or attend talks and classes.
It is open every day from 8am to midnight, but last admission is around 10 and the Dome isnt always open to access so it's always worth checking.
This is a must see for Berlin and we would actually go back and do this next time we visit.
THIS REVIEW WAS POSTED PREVIOUSLY ON QYPE BY MYSELF UNDER THE NAME SUNLINESAM
The Houses of Parliament may be bigger and more impressive, but every time I was in London they looked the same, how boring. :-) Not so the Reichstag (pronounced: raychs-tag), the German equivalent, in the course of my life I've seen it in three different varieties, if I were older, I could add a fourth. This is not so surprising, after all the building stands in Berlin, about which the art historian Karl Scheffer said in 1910, "Berlin is condemned forever to become and never to be."
The original Reichstag was completed in 1894, the architect Paul Wallot designed a grandiose neo-classical building with an over-scaled above-ground basement level and four monumental façades, a large flight of steps led to the main entrance, a huge portico with Corinthian columns. His cupola of steel and glass was considered an engineering masterpiece. In 1916 the words 'DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE' (To the German people) were chiselled above the main façade, the Kaiser didn't like that at all, he found the inscription far too democratic.
On 27th February 1933 a fire broke out in the building under dubious circumstances, the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler used it as a pretext to assume emergency powers. They didn't use the building for parliamentary sessions, however, it would have been necessary to renovate it completely, which wasn't done, it was used only for propaganda presentations and military functions.
During the war the building was badly damaged, the cupola destroyed. When Bonn became the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Reichstag lost its significance, it was restored only provisionally and used for different functions, among others as a delivery room! When I visited the Reichstag in October, a guide told us that once a visitor showed him his birth certificate with 'Reichstag Berlin' as place of birth.
When I was in Berlin in the 1970s, I did see the Reichstag in passing but didn't really look at it, it was only a bombastic building without any allure for tourists. The area near it was waste land, The Wall ran around the back of the building thus making it the last stop before the East so-to-speak.
Since 1971 the Bulgarian artist Christo and his French wife Jeanne-Claude had planned to wrap the Reichstag, but only in 1994 permission was given after heated discussions in Parliament. Wrapping began on 17th June, 1995 and was finished on 24th June, more than 100,000 square meters of fireproof polypropylene fabric, covered by an aluminium layer, and 15 km of rope were needed. The spectacle was seen by five million visitors, yours truly among them. I've been to many arty events in my life, the Wrapped Reichstag was one of, maybe *the* highlight (my life isn't over yet!). I saw the silvery monument in sunshine, when the sky was overcast and at night, I can't say when it was most impressive.
Why do Christo and Jeanne Claude wrap buildings, landscapes, artefacts, what is the deeper meaning behind all this? They have repeatedly stated that they do it to make the world a 'more beautiful place', no deeper meaning is intended, they make the world see well-known things in a different way, their motto is "revelation through concealing".
When the Reichstag was unwrapped, it looked naked and ugly! But then reconstruction began under the British architect Sir Norman Foster who had won the competition. Interestingly, Forster hadn't planned to build a new cupola on the roof, he wanted to put a flat plate on it, twice the size of the base, held up by gigantic columns. When the Berliners heard about that, they nicknamed the project 'Federal Filling Station'. (I guess he won the comp because he presented the best plans for the renovation of the inside). It needed a lot of pushing and wooing to make Foster design a new cupola, he must be happy now as it has become the No 1 tourist site in Berlin, since 1999 about 20 million tourists have come to visit it.
'Normal' visitors, i. e., single visitors and not groups which want to have a guided tour, enter through the right door of the portico, there they're checked like passengers in an airport, two lifts take them up to the flat roof of the building which is 24m high, they can walk around the cupola and enjoy the view of the cityscape. It's advisable to go up in the evening because then there aren't many tourists and you don't have to queue, you can watch a magnificent sunset if you're lucky. There's also a restaurant on the roof about which I can't say anything because I haven't been inside, it looks rather expensive, though.
From the roof you can look down into two courtyards, in the northern one is a flower bed (sort of) by the German artist Hans Haacke. From the net: "The work consists of a 21 x 7 metres large cast installed in the centre of the courtyard. In the middle the word DER BEVÖLKERUNG (To The Population) is written with lit neon letters. On instructions from Haacke the cast was and is still being filled with soil that is brought by parliament representative from each constituency in Germany. Today the neon letters are surrounded by randomly growing vegetation. DER BEVÖLKERING refers to the inscription, DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE (To The German People) from 1916 on the west portal of the Parliament building." Many political and public discussions preceded the installation and people are still not in one mind about it which is a good thing in my opinion because this is what the artist wants to achieve. If you ask me, *I* prefer TO THE POPULATION to TO THE GERMAN PEOPLE.
Now into the cupola which is 38m in diameter and 23,5m high. The ceiling of the assembly hall below is made of glass and it's possible to look down and watch the representatives in case there is a meeting. I visited twice but wasn't lucky, I would have liked to see our Chancellor Angela Merkel in action! In the middle of the cupola is an enormous funnel covered with mirror plates providing the assembly hall with light, they can be moved according to the position of the sun. The inside of the funnel serves as an air vent (its lowest part is in the basement of the building), the last time I visited I was with a group, our guide could hardly stop enthusing over the sophisticated, ecologically correct ventilation system. The top of the funnel is open, rain water is collected just beneath the rim.
Two ramps lead to a viewing platform, they're screwed to the steel ribs forming the skeleton of the cupola (onto which the glass panes are fastened). I'd really like to tell you what it is like on the platform, 47m above ground, but unfortunately I can't, the second time I visited I wanted to be braver than the first time but chickened out again. The ramps swing slightly, and their 'walls', about hip high, are made of glass, i.e., I feel exposed, there is too much empty space for me inside the cupola, and the sky is visible through the glass panes - all this made me dizzy and when I had covered about a quarter of the 230m long ramp, I had to turn round and walk down again. (Readers suffering from vertigo will understand me.) This is not the way it should be because one ramp is meant for the people going up and the other for the ones going down, I was lucky that there wasn't much traffic, so no one complained.
I have to admit that I didn't inform myself where and how handicapped visitors can get into the Reichstag, but I know that they can get in because our Home Secretary sits in a wheelchair; they can get up by lift and roll into the cupola - but can they get up the ramps? I doubt it, I can't imagine anyone pushing a wheelchair up, and then it would block the flow of tourists, the ramps are only 2,30m wide.
Should you ever visit Berlin, don't miss the Reichstag and the cupola, it's a unique site, strikingly modern at the top but with a lot of history below. And it's free!
Platz der Republik 1
Open daily from 8 am until midnight.
One of the problems with being at a smallish university and studying a language other than French is the people you end up with in your classes. Actually that sounds a bit nasty, and all of the others (all 8 of them….) are great, but they study some, erm, interesting subjects. We have Gerard doing Physics, Maggie and Laura doing Biochemistry and Natalie and Christina doing Textiles among others. We have to do subject related oral presentations occasionally, which is how the Reichstag came up in conversation. One of the textile pair brought in a book showing wonderful designs, and it featured this place (which is the reason I’m writing on it now if you were wondering where all this was leading). The Reichstag (translation – rich day?) was built between the years 1884 and 1894 to house the German Parliament. This in itself is enough to warrant a visit from history buffs, but the reason I, along with many other tourists, was dragged there was to see (and climb) the newly added glass dome. This was erected in the second half of the 1990s and was designed by, wait for it, a Brit. To be exact, Sir Norman Foster aka the bloke behind that wobbly bridge in London and LSE’s new library. My mother’s an LSE graduate and so seeing as she was in Berlin with me, that was another reason to go. We get up early in my family, even when on holiday, so we were there shortly after it opened. We had to queue to get in but not for an unbearable length of time. It was lucky we went when we did, because on leaving an hour and a half or so later, the queues were stretching out of the door, down the hill and around the corner onto the main street, such was the interest. Inside, what with it being the place the parliament types hang out, security is tighter than at other tourist spots. Bags and people are send through x ray machines and metal detectors respectively, and even so security guards seemed to be puling people aside randomly for spot sea
rches. This hasn’t happened to me since 1992 when, a fashion conscious 9 year old, I was puled over at Manchester airport for wearing too big a belt…… Once inside we were allowed to queue (and the Germans are as bad as the French at this) for the lifts which were both small and slow if you consider the vast numbers of visitors they have to transport each day. We made it to the top though, and from there we were allowed to start walking up. The place is set up kind of like an orange peel – round and round higher and higher until you reach the top. The path is sloped not staired, and so makes it suitable for those in wheel chairs, although those with children may find it a pain – if only because the little rascals race to the top and then make jumping-off motions (not possible of course since it’s all enclosed). At the top and the bottom are exhibitions about the place’s history (most only in German) and comfy seats to get you breath back. And that’s it. No films. No shops. One posh looking and incidentally closed when we went café. You walk up and then you walk down. Not wonderful exciting, but fun all the same if you’re like me and enjoy, ahem, climbing things. An alternative or complement to the Berliner Dom (I did both), there are some nice views from the top if a little limited in distance and obscured by fingerprinted glass. Guided tours of the main building are available, but apart from for these, entrance is totally free. The dome is open from 8am to midnight daily, but as I mentioned I would recommend avoiding the middle part of the day if at all possible. Nearest s-bahn is Unter den Linden (lines S1 and S2, or pink and green), and busses 100, 248 and 257 all pass close by. Useful Websites : www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/index.html www.reichstag-info.de
This is one of Berlin's most important features, politically speaking. It has been constructed after the fire of the Reichstag when Hitler was in power. It's near the brandenburg gates, which at the moment is being covered up by a huge poster. The most prominient element of the Reichstag is the glass dome, resting on the top of the reichstag. It was designed by a British architect, and its purpose, is that visitors can see the politicans operating below them. There are many viewpoints of dome as it is made out of glass, and an amzing viwe of berlin can be seen. The beautiful Potsdamer Platz lights can be seen to change colour from purple to ble to pink and so on. The whole Reichstag is heated by solar panels, that are placed at different angles. These reflect the light in many angles, heating the whole building. From the entrance of the building, it conveys a certain grandeur about it, and then having the security checks, plus the huge lift up many metres projects an elegance. An excellent sight to any avid historian!
The Reichstag was built to house the German Parliament, and is just a few yards from the Brandenburg Gate. The building was constructed at the end of the nineteenth century, and used as the home of the parliament until 1945. In 1916, the slogan "Dem Deutschen Volke" ('for the German people') was added above the entrance, and can still be seen today. After the Second World War, the building underwent extensive restoration. This included the removal of the building's original dome and much of the ornamentation around the outside of the building. In 1990, after the demolition of the Berlin Wall (which ran just to the East of the building), and the reunification of Germany, the first meeting of the Bundestag (the reunified German Parliament) took place in the Reichstag. A further phase of building work then took place on the Reichstag, starting in 1995 after the artist Christo, used the building as the basis of an enormous art installation, wrapping it in gleaming fabric. This, most recent, phase of construction work was directed by British architect Sir Norman Foster, and includes a spectacular dome, with a viewing gallery. The Bundestag resumed meeting in the Reichstag in 1999. Entrance of the Reichstag is free, but queues can be spectacularly long, particularly at weekends, so it can take a couple of hours to actually get in. Although several friends of mine have visited the Bundestag assembly hall, it wasn't open when I visited the Reichstag, and I'm not entirely sure why. In any case, I was still able to visit the dome on top of the building, and was very impressed with it. The glass dome is slightly elliptical in shape, and around the inner surface, there are two ramps that run up to a viewing gallery at the top. In the centre of the dome is a mirrored funnel, which, it is claimed, will direct sunlight into the assembly hall directly beneath the dome. There is also a small café and restaura
nt on the roof of the building. While the view is almost certainly impressive from the top of the dome, allowing you to see how much of the city is still under construction, when I was there it was raining very hard, and the visibility was exceptionally poor. However, there are leaflets available that show what the view is like on a clear day, and what buildings could have been seen, had the weather been more clement. A trip to the Reichstag is an interesting way to get a feel of the transforming city of Berlin, as it continues to rebuild itself following its devastation in the Second World War, as well as offering excellent views over the city – weather permitting!
After extensive renovations between 1995 and 1999 the Reichstag is now the residence of the German Parliament (Bundestag).