Among Berlin's sights, the Reichstag is one of the city's favourites. Located on Platz der Republik in the Tiergarten district, just to the north and west of the Brandenburg Gate, the edifice has been a centre for German politics and history for more than 120 years. After extensive modernisation, the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, moved in in 1999. The 23 m glass dome designed by British star architect Norman Foster is quite the contrast to the traditional Neo-Renaissance style of the original building, making this landmark even more striking in today's capital.
Modern in old garb
Architect Paul Wallot designed and completed the Reichstag on the left bank of the River Spree in 1894. It was where the imperial assembly (Reichstag) of the German Empire met under Kaiser Wilhelm II and continued to be used for that purpose after the first German republic was founded in 1918. It suffered a devastating fire in 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler took power, and was at the centre of the final battle of World War II. The war damage was repaired by 1960, only to have the Berlin Wall erected directly behind the Reichstag a year later. Architect Norman Foster designed the fundamental modernisations to the edifice that have made the Reichstag such a popular attraction for Germans and foreigners alike to visit when in Berlin.
Magnificent views and relaxed picnics
The Reichstag building is easily reached by foot with a 15 minute walk from the main rail station through the Spreebogenpark. To enter, you will need reservations. Once you go through security, you can take the elevator at the west entrance to the rooftop terrace. Here you will be given an audio guide with interesting information, which updates automatically as you wind your way down the spiral ramp inside dome and to the 40 m high viewing platform. The platform offers magnificent views of the government quarter, the Großer Tiergarten park, and nearby Brandenburg Gate, as well as across the city. If you join the crowds queuing before sunset, you could be rewarded with a spectacular sunset over the city, provided the weather cooperates. Of course, you can also relax and enjoy the romantic spectacle with a good glass of wine in the Käfer restaurant on the roof terrace. By the way, the large lawn in front of the Reichstag is a very popular place for Berliners to relax and have a picnic.
Important art and the veiled Reichstag
An event that you should not miss is a guided tour of the plenary hall where the Bundestag meets. Also worth seeing are the works of art distributed throughout the entire building, including magnificent pieces by contemporary artists like Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, and Grisha Bruskin. Before the renovations got underway, artist couple Christo and Jeanne Claude caused quite a sensation when they covered the entire edifice with silver tarpaulins for two weeks in 1995. Images of this installation piece were seen around the world.
Use the Berlin WelcomeCard for unlimited transport
When preparing for your visit to Berlin, don't forget the Berlin WelcomeCard, a good no matter how long you plan to stay. Berlin's official and best-selling tourist ticket gives you unlimited use of public transport. You also benefit from over 200 discount offers around the city, saving up to 50%. How about a helicopter flight over the city centre or a colourful Vegas-style show at Friedrichstadt-Palast? Or you can choose the Berlin WelcomeCard inclusive and get free admission to Berlin's top attractions.
In a nutshell
Platz der Republik 1