History Of The Reichstag
Completed in 1894, the Reichstag served as the seat of the German parliament until it burnt down in mysterious circumstances in 1933 - the same year that Adolph Hitler took power. During the Second World War the building fell into disrepair but was still of great symbolic importance. So much so that that when the Russian army took the city after the Battle of Berlin in 1945 the Reichstag was the first place they planted their flags. During the Cold War, the West German parliament was moved to Bonn and it was not until German unification in 1990 that the Reichstag was returned to its position as the seat of German government.
The Public Gallery
Whilst many parliaments around the world have public galleries, the Reichstag's commitment to open government is there for all to see. The magnificent glass and steel dome that sits atop the Reichstag allows visitors to observe the actual workings of the German government going on in the debating chamber below (when it is in session). Designed by the British architect Norman Foster, the dome is only for those with a head for heights but it is a unique opportunity to see the workings of democracy as well as incredible views of Berlin.
Around The Reichstag
As well as the fantastic view from the roof of the Reichstag, the building itself is well worth a look from outside! From the fluttering flags to the classical statues to the inscription 'Dem Deutschen Volk' ('To the German People') inscribed above its mighty doors, this is a building that is at once imposing and welcoming. Directly behind the building you will find the Spree. This stretch of the river was part of the Berlin 'Wall' and was heavily patrolled by East German soldiers. The white crosses on the banks of the river are markers commemorating the many people who were shot whilst trying to escape to West Berlin and freedom.