A stay in Berlin isn’t complete without a visit to one of the most famous buildings in the city and an icon of the tumultuous changes the city has seen.
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A symbol of German History
Opened in 1894 to house the Reichstag – the parliament of the German Empire it’s true moment of historical significance being the Reichstag fire of 1933 which served as a catalyst to propel Hitler’s National Socialists to power. The fire severely damaged the building and it fell into disuse and remained that way for several decades. The 1960s saw efforts at refurbishment and the building was made safe against the elements.
Situated just a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate, the powerful symbol of the reunification of Germany, the Reichstag was once again to become the seat of German democracy, the home of the Bundestag. In 1990 restoration work was begun, led by a British architect with a wide international reputation, Norman Foster and it is his signature dome that now crowns the Reichstag building.
Visit the dome and roof terrace, or take a guided tour
There are two types of visit available, a straightforward Dome & Roof Terrace visit – take a large glass elevator to the top of the building wander out onto the roof terrace then listen to an audio tour as you walk up, and then down, the spiral ramp to the top of the dome. If you’ve got a bit more time to spare (and you register further in advance) you could take the 90 minute guided tour which will teach you about the functioning of the German parliament as well as the history and architecture of the Reichstag building, after which you can visit the dome.
The views from the Reichstag are impressive, in all directions, particularly of Tiergarten and the new Main Train Station – you’re high up enough that you can see the whole city but not so high that you’re looking down on it from above, like with the TV Tower.
Some photos in and from the dome on a cold January afternoon:
Visits are Free – Advance Online Registration Required
It is now compulsory to register ahead of time. Registration is free on the Bundestag website. If registering for the dome visit we suggest doing so at least 2 weeks in advance. For the guided tours, at least a month.
You can register for either the Dome visit or Guided Tour of the Reichstag here. Note that once you’ve submitted the form on the website, you’re still not finished, you will get another email with a link in it – follow that link and then fill in another form with the names and dates of birth of everyone in your party.
Turning up on the day?
While possible it is not recommended to try turning up and trying to get on a tour, particularly if you’re not in Berlin for long. There is a possibility of getting put into an open slot at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days from when you request it, in person, at the visitor centre.
Planning a trip to Berlin? We’d love to put together a Berlin travel package just for you. Get in touch to find out more!
Charlie is head of marketing at JayWay Travel. A long-term Prague resident, his interests are cooking, eating out, cycling, skiing and of course, travel.