A visit to The Reichstag Building, Berlin

In En-Route, Europe, Germany, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Experience a birds-eye view of the German Parliament

Inside the dome of the Reichstag. A spiral staircase take you to the top, and other back down.  The central inverted reflector transfers daylight down to the debating chamber below.

Inside the Reichstag dome

I don’t often say that you must visit somewhere, as everyone has different interests and opinions. However, during our trip to Berlin, we headed to the Reichstag Building (Parliament), and it was a fascinating experience. And definitely one of the highlights of our visit.

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The incredible glass dome that balloons into the Berlin skyline is stunning. Although it’s not until you amble your way up and around the spiral incline that you truly appreciate its magnificence.

Free to visit

We arrived for our pre-booked slot 15 minutes early as requested (more on the arrival process below). Once through the airport-style checks and scanners, you’re then guided into the Reichstag Building.

The grand neoclassical building that is the Reichstag.  tinged with an orange glow as dusk sets in.

Outside the Reichstag

It’s so easy, once in the entrance you hop into the lift and voila, you’re at the top of the Parliament building by the glass dome. Just grab your free audio guide and a historical tour awaits.

A helpful guide

If you've yet to discover Berlin's incredible history, then let’s start planning. I find these DK Travel Guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.
 
You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.


How to obtain your free tickets

The Reichstag Building is free for everyone to visit, although a little prep is required. Here is the link to the Bundestag (the official German Federal Parliament site)

The steps you need to follow;

You must register to visit in advance, although this can be done on the day in quieter periods.
We used the official Deutscher Bundestag, website, and it is straightforward.
To book your allocated time slot complete the online registration.
You must state how many people are in your party.
An email will be sent to you, you then need to complete the following information for each member of your group.
Family Name
First name
Date of Birth
You will then receive another email confirming your personal details and allocated time slot.
Arrive no later than 15 mins before your allotted time.
Most importantly, you must also show your official photo identification (e.g. passport, national ID card, driver’s licence, student or school pupil ID). Ensure you bring the original, as copies of identification documents are not accepted.
You can visit from 8am until midnight
Your entrance also includes a free audio guide.

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A bit of history

The original Parliament building was completed in 1894 after 10 years of construction. The Reichstag was then severely damaged in 1933 due to a fire, and then with the subsequent second World War, the Reichstag fell into disuse.

The neoclassical entrance to the Reichstag.  Inscribed above it, in German, is the phrase ‘The German people’

Entrance to the Reichstag

Partial renovations were carried out during the early 1960s. Although it wasn’t until after the German reunification on the 3rd October 1990, that the Reichstag was fully restored. It was reconstructed in the 1990s led by the British architect Norman Foster.

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Like a magnet

You are automatically drawn to the huge glass dome, which is incredible. It was created as a nod to the original glass and steel cupola which was built in 1894.

On the rooftop of the Reichstag in Berlin looking at the glass dome where you can see people walking up the spiral staircase to The viewpoint at the top.

Outside the glass dome

In the central base of the dome is a circular storyboard. It’s full of historical pictures of the Reichstag and Berlin through tumultuous times. It depicts the transformation of the parliament building and how the city moved forward after the German reunification. Gary and I spent such a long time around here, as it was so interesting.

Looking down on the glass down above the debating chamber the Reichstag.  around the circular down how individual informational panels that tell the story of the Reichstag, and its place in German history.

Historical storyboards

Short on time?

If you would like to discover Berlin in more depth, and learn about its fascinating history, jump on this great value half day walking tour.

Head to the sky

With our audio guide at the ready, we stroll to the bottom of the ramp. As you effortlessly wander around in circles, winding your way up to the top of the glass roof, all the significant landmarks are highlighted to you along the way.

A view of the Brandenburg gate from the rooftop of the Reichstag, with the American embassy in the background.

Brandenburg Gate from the Reichstag rooftop

As you ascend higher and higher more of Berlin’s skyline emerges into your 360-degree view. You just can’t help but stop to admire the urban horizon across Berlin’s rooftops. All the while, you are listening to snippets of history and important information fed to you through the audio tour.

The central inverted mirrored pyramid reflects light down through the glass stone into the parliament building.

The mirrored centre of the Reichstag dome

Inside the dome of the Reichstag. A portrait view of the spiral staircase and the central inverted reflector the transfers  daylight down to the debating chamber below.

Spiraling around the Reichstag dome

Why not?

Start creating your own German adventure from its capital city and fly directly into Berlin with easyJet & British Airways.
 
Or alternatively, like us discover more of Germany on a road trip. If your venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle and head east. Although, if you’re unable to bring your own car or you are flying into this lovely country give SIXT car hire a go. They cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

You must look down

What is also beautiful about the glass dome is the tower of mirrors that you encircle. All the way up and around as you spiral to the top.
 
Peering over the edge, following the mirrors to the ground below and you can see through the glass ceiling of where the German parliament regularly convenes.

Looking down through the glass dome of the Reichstag to the chairs within the debating chamber of the parliament building below.

Parliament below

As the natural light beams through the dome, a large sunshade like a ship’s sail follows the day around and cuts out the glare below.

A view of the giant reflector within the dome of the Reichstag.  You can also see the screen the shields direct sunlight and rotates to follow the path of the sun.

Sunshade moving around the Reichstag dome

However, it is not until you reach the highest point of the dome that you realise you are open to the elements. If it were snowing or raining you would undoubtedly know about it.

At the top of the glass dome of the Reichstag where a circular seating platform sits beneath a hole in the dome.  Rainwater is collected through this hole and is used for utility functions within the building.

Looking through the hole in the roof

To the roof terrace

When then stroll back down around the inside of the dome and head outside to the Reichstag rooftops. This is a reasonably large area to wander around, and you get amazing views across Berlin’s skyline, including the nearby is the Brandenburg Gate.

A view of the sunset to the west of Berlin from the roof of the Reichstag.

Berlin evening skyline

If you’re not quite ready to head off for the day, you can pop into the rooftop terrace restaurant.

The view of the glass dome of the Reichstag in Berlin from the far corner of the rooftop walkway in the evening light.

Roof terrace and the Reichstag glass dome

I thought our visit to the Reichstag Building was going to a fleeting tour, we ended up strolling around for nearly 2 hours.

Did you know?

That there was a Museum Island in the heart of Berlin. This island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to five incredible museums built between 1824 and 1930.

Brandenburg Gate

Just a short hop from Parliament building is the 18th-century Brandenburg Gate. It’s a lovely monument to see any time of day; however, I loved seeing it of an evening.

The illuminated Brandenburg gate at dusk.

The Brandenburg Gate

Discover more of Germany

If you’d like to discover more of north Germany, take a peek at some of our other posts. If you’re on a road trip, why not also visit Hamburg, Münster and Aachen.

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Inspired to visit Berlin?

If you on a road trip like us check out the Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Checkpoint Charlie.

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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