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Updated: 2014-08-18 / (visitberlin.de)

The Reichstag, seat of the German Parliament, is the most famous landmark in Berlin.

History of the Reichstag

On 9 June 1884, Kaiser Wilhelm I needed three attempts to lay the foundation-stone. It is said that, while he was using the tool, it cracked. The Kaiser did not like the Reichstag. He only reluctantly agreed to the plans of architect Paul Wallot and barely approved of his plans for a heavy stone dome. Because the Reichstag would then be even higher than the City Castle.

In 1894, after ten years of construction, the Reichstag was completed and its dome towered above the City Castle after all. Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was now in power and who was Kaiser Wilhelm’s grandson raged against this “pinnacle of bad taste." But what could he do? It's simple: He ended up discrediting the architect, referring to the Reichstag as the "Reich's monkey house" and preventing the inscription "To the German people"(“Dem Deutschen Volke”) from being inscribed on it- which was added only in 1916.

Yet the Parliament building remained and, from that point onwards, it has reflected the turbulence of German history. On November 9, 1918, Deputy Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed from the window the creation of a republic. On February 27, 1933 under mysterious circumstances that still have yet to be explained, the Reichstag caught on fire, destroying the chamber and the dome. The Reichstag fire served as a pretext for the Nazi regime to persecute their political opponents.

After being destroyed in the war, it was rebuilt between 1961 and 1971 in a simplified form without the dome, which was blown up in 1945, according to plans by Paul Baumgarten. After German reunification, the German Bundestag decided to use the building as a seat of Parliament again.

Between 1994 and 1999, the Reichstag was redesigned and expanded by the British architect Sir Norman Foster as a modern Parliament building while retaining its extensive, historical dimensions. The accessible glass dome, which initially generated a lot of controversy, has since become one of the landmarks of Berlin. Since 1999, the German Bundestag has been convening in the Reichstag building.

Visits to the Reichstag

Info for school classes

Conducted tours suitable for children are available on request on a daily basis. School pupils from the 10th grade can learn about how the German Bundestag (National Parliament) works by means of the simulation game “Learning Parliamentary Democracy through Play”. There is also a diverse programme for pupils offered. In any case early registration is required. Admittance is free of charge.

Registration for visitors of the Reichstag

The dome and the roof terrace are only open for registered visitors (min 2 days in advance). For the registration please click www.bundestag.de.

For spontaneous visits:

From June 26 on the dome can also be visited without online registration. Visitors to the dome can register themselves for admission in the new service center in Scheidemannstraße (at least two hours before the visit depending on free capacities). You can also register to visit the dome in the following two days. The new service center is opened daily from 8 am to 8 pm.

Sights near to the Reichstag:

· Brandenburg Gate

· German Chancellery

· Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe


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