Of all the buildings in Berlin, the Parliamentary Building is probably one of the most symbolic. The mighty structure, erected in 1884–94 by Paul Wallot as the proud manifestation of the power of the German Reich, was destroyed by arson in 1933 and bombed during World War II. In 1996, the artist Christo wrapped up the Reichstag and, in 1994–9, the British architect Sir Norman Foster transformed it into one of the most modern parliamentary buildings in the world. Today it is the official seat of the Bundestag, the German parliament.

  • Platz der Republik 1

  • Open 8am–midnight (last admission 10pm)

  • 030 22 73 21 52

  • www.bundestag.de

The Reichstag Fire

When the Reichstag went up in flames on 27 February 1933, the Dutch Communist van der Lubbe was arrested and charged with arson. It is, however, much more likely that the Nazis had started the fire themselves. Adolf Hitler used the Reichstag fire as a pretext to get the “Enabling Act” passed by parliament. This allowed him to dispose of all his opponents, marking the beginning of a 12-year reign of terror.

Main entrance of the Reichstag

If a meal at the Käfer restaurant exceeds your budget, many stalls in the vicinity of the Reichstag sell hot dogs.

Large numbers of visitors come to see the Reichstag cupola. It is best to avoid weekends or to start queuing half an hour before the opening time. Tuesday is the quietest day.

Top 10 Sights
  1. The Cupola

    The new Reichstag cupola by Sir Norman Foster affords breathtaking views of Berlin. It is open at the top to air the building and – a touch of irony here – to allow for the dissemination of debates throughout the country. A ramp winds its way up to the top.

  2. Plenary Hall

    The newly designed plenary hall is the seat of the Deutscher Bundestag, the German parliament, which has convened here again since 20 April 1999. Technologically, the hall is one of the most advanced in the world. The federal eagle caused a row: considered too “fat”, it had to be slimmed down.

  3. Portico “Dem deutschen Volke”

    The dedication “To the German People” was designed in 1916, against the will of Wilhelm II.

  4. Restored Façade

    Despite extensive renovations, small bullet holes from World War II are still visible in the building’s façade.

  5. Restaurant Käfer

    This luxury restaurant next to the cupola on the Reichstag’s roof offers an excellent view of the historical centre of Unter den Linden. It is very popular and you may well have to wait for a seat .

  6. Installation “Der Bevölkerung”

    Hans Haacke’s work of art “To the People” is a counterpoint to the portico inscription opposite.

  7. Memorial by Dieter Appelt

    Unveiled in 1992, the memorial commemorates 97 Social Democratic and Communist Reichstag delegates who were murdered under the Third Reich.

  8. The German Flag

    The giant German flag was first raised on the occasion of the official national celebrations of German reunification on 3 October 1990.

  9. Platz der Republik

    Celebrations often take place on the lawn in front of the Reichstag, most recently in 1996, when the building was wrapped up by Christo.

  10. Memorial for Victims of the Wall

    Opposite the southern side of the Reichstag, a memorial recalls the Berlin Wall, which ran only a few steps away from this spot. One of the crosses commemorates Chris Gueffroy: shot in February 1989 when trying to escape, he was one of more than 100 people who died at the Wall.

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