Is the Reichstag worth visiting? Absolutely! The Reichstag is a must-see in Berlin, so use this amazing guide to plan any Reichstag tours!
A stone’s throw from the famous Brandenburg Gate–the iconic symbol of the border where East Germany meets West–the Reichstag (parliament or diet) building looms large and imposing.
The neo-renaissance facade, complete with massive columns, fit in well in the late 1890s when it was initially conceived to represent the power and might of the newly united German Empire.
With a little bit of advance planning, you can tour this symbol of German power and resilience on your weekend trip to Berlin.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why is the Reichstag Worth Visiting?
- A New Dome for a New Day
- Planning Your Visit to the Reichstag and Reichstag Tours
- Getting to the Reichstag
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Why is the Reichstag Worth Visiting?
In 1933 the Reichstag was badly damaged in a fire Hitler blamed on the Communists. Whether true or not, he used this as the trigger allowing him to gain emergency powers and thus begin his dictatorship.
After World War II, the West German Parliament moved their proceedings to Bonn and, although partially repaired and reconstructed, the Reichstag sat largely unused sadly waiting for the day when East and West would be reunited.
That reunification finally came about at the end of the Cold War at midnight on October 3rd, 1990. About four years later, it was decided to move the seat of Federal power and the Bundestag back to Berlin.
However, the Reichstag was in dire need of repairs and thus renovations began under the direction of the brilliant, British architect, Norman Foster.
A New Dome For A New Day
Both the old and new Reichstag had a dome, but the new dome was to be an energy-efficient symbol of modern architecture. This new dome is a windowed structure of steel, mirrors, and light that extends from the dome to hang over the seating area of the diet, flooding the chamber in soft, diffused natural light.
Visitors to the dome find that smaller ceiling dome surrounded by informational panels about the Reichstag and the dome’s construction; you’re also given a bird’s eye view down into the seats of power below.
Then there is a funnel-shaped cone to allow for fresh air circulation. It rises up out of the central chamber and vents directly out through the top of the dome. When we were there, a soft rain was falling and it just made the experience that much more tangible.
To get to the uppermost part of the dome, you walk up a spiral ramp and come down the ramp on the other side. So that if you look closely, one level is ascending and the other is descending. The entire time you can listen to the audio-tour which is full of fascinating information, both cultural and technical.
On the bottom level of the dome you can go outside and walk around, take in the views of Berlin’s skyline. You can also go to the restaurant for a first-class meal, although, it’s a good idea to book ahead if you want to have dinner there.
Is The Reichstag Worth Visiting? Planning Your Visit To The Reichstag and Reichstag Tours
Be aware, it takes some advance planning to visit the Reichstag. Very rarely can you walk up and just go in right away. In fact, according to the official website, “advance online registration is required.”
Still, it is possible to visit the dome and the rooftop terrace on a space-available basis. Make your way to the visitor’s information center nearby on Scheidemannstr. Here you can sign up for any openings on upcoming Reichstag tours that day or in the following two days.
The best choice is to sign up for Bundestag visit online registration. Again, be sure to have your visitors’ last and first names, as well as their date of birth. Visits can only be booked for the current month or the following month. Also, be aware that Reichstag tours may be canceled without notice for security or weather reasons.
Planned closures do occur throughout the year, but these are usually well identified on the visitor registration website. However, is the Reightstag worth visiting without touring the incredible dome? No, I don’t think it would be worth the time. So, make sure it won’t be closed for cleaning when you’re visiting Berlin.
Getting to the Reichstag
Getting around Berlin is easy and convenient using the public transportation system of buses, trams, trolleys, and trains. The Reichstag, part of the Bundestag complex, is has stops on just about all of the transportation options.
S-Bahn – Brandenburger Tor (S1,S2, S25); U-Bahn – Bundestag or Brandenburger Tor (U55)
Bus – Bundestag (100), Brandenburger Tor (100, 147, 200, TXL)
Is the Reichstag worth visiting? Absolutely! Just make sure to book one of the many Reichstag tours offers daily so that you can see the amazing central dome the next time you spend spring in Germany. Because like the secret passages of the Tempelhof Airport, a visit to the Reichstag is well worth your time.
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.