hey hey – some architecture for you:
The German Reichstag building houses the German parliament (Bundestag), equivalent of the U.S. Congress. The building is open to the public and it’s fairly simple to arrange a visit to the dome (designed by Norman Foster). You just have to register online in advance with your personal information and go through security (on par with an airport) to get inside the Reichstag.
You may be familiar with the fact that Germany was only re-unified in 1990 and seeing how the Reichstag was in West Berlin, it only became the official capital building of all of Germany again in 1999. During the interim period of reunification in 1990 and the German government moving the capital from Bonn to Berlin in 1999, the building had to be renovated and repaired.
Until the Bundestag reconvened for the first time inside the Reichstag, Norman Foster won an architectural award to modernize the building by creating a glass dome atop the Reichstag’s roof. The dome symbolizes Germany’s reunification (don’t ask me how).
Also interesting, in 1995, Jean-Claude & Christo actually wrapped the Reichstag building in a white cloth fabric. Pretty cool. I saw their art project of saffron-colored cloth gates in NYC’s central park in 2005.
Photos from inside the Reichstag dome
I visited the inside of the Reichstag dome in January, so, uh, it was very very cold. During the summer it’s supposed to be much nicer and you can actually walk around the Reichstag’s roof. I barely could stand being inside the dome (it’s open-air, by the way, because of the open cupola at the top).
After going through security at the welcome center outside the Reichstag, you’ll be escorted with a small group through the main entrance and into an elevator up to the roof. There, you’re given an audio tour which will start immediately as you start to ascend the ramp inside the dome. As you walk up and up the ramp which twirls around the dome’s interior, you’re given a brief history and overview of the Reichstag. The audio guide also focuses your attention onto the view outside, pointing out all the major buildings and monuments visible from the dome.
Once you reach the top of the dome (where, in January, it will be completely and totally freezing cold), there is a viewing platform with a panoramic view of Berlin. Of course I couldn’t enjoy it so I quickly made my way down the ramp again to the bottom of the dome. Underneath the dome is the main chamber for the German parliament, or Bundestag, and you can actually see parts of the chamber from up inside the dome.
The view from inside the Reichstag’s dome gives you a 360 panoramic view of Berlin. In this shot, the city’s central train station, hauptbahnhof, is visible in the distance.
In the center of the Reichstag dome is this giant contraption of mirrors which is used to provide natural lighting to the Bundestag chamber below. It also makes the building eco-friendly.
Check out those mirrors!
A clear winter sky. This was actually just a few days of Berlin’s first snowfall for the winter.
At the center of the base of the dome is an exhibit of photographs and information about the Reichstag’s history. One of the more interesting moments from the Reichstag’s history is when it was set fire just before WWII to fuel the paranoia which eventually lead to the Nazi control of Germany.
Up, up, up the ramp. Each of the four columns atop the dome had a German flag, except for one which was the European Union (EU) flag.
A view from inside the Reichstag dome—of the park just in front. A message for the legislators, perhaps? This park was also the site of the Occupy Berlin demonstrations in the Fall.
The front of the Reichstag building.
If you’re planning to visit the Bundestag, the dome of the Reichstag or the cafe up on the roof, you can use this link to register in advance: https://visite.bundestag.de/BAPWeb/pages/createBookingRequest.jsf?lang=en All visitors to the dome must register in advance for security reasons. It’s even possible to sit in on a session of the Bundestag (if you have a tour group of 25 and arrange it in advance). However, the easiest and most popular thing to do as a Berlin tourist is visit the inside of the Reichstag dome.
Interested in more travel photos? View my collection of travel photos in BIG picture format here: http://travelsofadam.com/photos