The Reichstag building in Berlin is the main symbol of the country and the most famous parliament in the world. This is a historic building of the state assembly, in which from 1894 to 1933 the Reichstag of the German Empire and the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic met. Since 1999, the Federal Assembly of the Republic of Germany – the Bundestag – has been located in parliament. Since 2002, the facility has been visited by over 35 million tourists.
The building project belongs to the architect from Frankfurt – Paul Vallot. The construction of the parliament began on June 9, 1884, on this day the first stone was laid. Work continued for 10 years and cost the treasury 24 million Reichsmarks.
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The building, built in the style of the high Renaissance, was equipped with all modern technical means. Fans, central heating with temperature regulators, pneumatic mail, an electric generator, water supply and other achievements of engineering science of those years were installed here.
In 1933, part of the Reichstag was damaged by a fire. The dome, plenary hall and several adjacent premises were damaged. Sessions of the Parliament moved to the building of the Kroll Opera. Repair work, except for a small reconstruction of the dome, was not carried out in the Reichstag for a long time.
During the war, in 1941, the building served as a bomb shelter, an electronic lamp factory, a hospital and a maternity hospital.
In 1945, the Soviet leadership declared the Reichstag the main symbol of Nazi Germany. During the attack and assault, the building was captured by Soviet troops, and on April 30, 1945 at 14.25 the first red flag was hoisted over the Reichstag. Later, on the morning of May 1, another flag was installed, known worldwide as the Victory Banner. Also, the soldiers left various graffiti that have survived to the present.
After the war, the parliament building was not used for a long time. In 1954, due to the threat of collapse, the dome was blown up. The restoration of the Reichstag was entrusted to the architect Paul Baumgarten, who did not begin to restore the dome and numerous decorative details. Construction work went on for a long time, until 1973: as a result, the plenary hall was restored and a historical exposition was placed.
After the reunification of Germany in 1990, it was decided to move the Bundestag to the Reichstag building, in connection with which they held a competition for large-scale reconstruction. The winner was the Englishman Norman Foster, who managed not only to preserve the historical appearance of the Reichstag, but also to give it the appearance of a modern building.
According to the original design, the roof of the building was supposed to be a flat canopy. However, in May 1995, it was decided to build the famous glass dome of the Reichstag, which became a symbol of German unity. Its construction was completed in 1999. The dome has become a popular tourist destination, as a wonderful panorama of Berlin opens from its observation deck.
The structure of the Reichstag building is thought out in detail. On the ground floor are the secretariat and all engineering systems and communications. Above are the meeting rooms, and above them are rooms for visitors. The presidium is located even higher, and at the very top there is a fractional level, a roof-terrace and a dome. The doors of each level are painted in a certain color, according to the Per Arnoldi system, which helps to navigate the building.
Thanks to modern materials and construction technologies, the Reichstag building in Berlin seems very airy, despite its scale. This is achieved by lightweight steel structures and extensive glazed areas.
The inscriptions left on the walls of the parliament by Soviet soldiers, as well as traces of bullets, are partially preserved. You can see them on excursions by appointment. In addition to historical excursions, various exhibitions and events are regularly held in the Reichstag building.
Excursions in the Reichstag
Due to the increased terrorist threat, the Reichstag dome is closed to public access, access is only possible to the observation deck. To inspect the premises and the dome, you must sign up for a tour.
The duration of all excursions is 90 minutes, in groups of no more than 25 people. For foreign tourists guided tours in Danish, English, French, Russian, German and other languages. To register, you can use the special online form on the Reichstag website.
A tour of the Reichstag building (without visiting the parliament) includes a story about the history and architecture of the building, the composition and operation of the Bundestag. Also, under favorable weather conditions, a visit to the dome is possible.