The dome of the Bundestag in Berlin

Photo Catherine Gras

The Bundestag building is emblematic of German history and more specifically of the history of Berlin.

Built in 1894, in a rather heavy style characteristic of the time, the Reichstag building is the symbol of German unification. The building was partially destroyed by fire in early 1933 and the Nazi government used this as a pretext to launch a major roundup of opponents of the regime.

During the Second World War, and particularly during the final days of the Battle of Berlin, the building was again badly damaged.

At the end of the war, it was located in the western sector of Berlin, very close to the Soviet zone which began at the Brandenburg Gate. With the erection of the Wall, its location became even more problematic and the building remained little used, it was almost in ruins. At that time, the West German government was based in Bonn.

After the fall of the Wall and the reunification of 1990, the question of the government’s location arose. The solution of relocating the government to Berlin won by a narrow margin in a vote in the Bundestag. The decision was therefore taken to renovate the building, which was in a very poor state of repair. A call for projects was launched and the English architect Norman Foster won.

The building as we see it today preserves a large part of the old architecture with the addition of a glass dome which changes its appearance quite significantly, although the whole remains very massive. You have to go a bit further to see the dome. Fortunately the area is not very built up and there are good views of the Bundestag.

View of the building at night, a good moment to capture its reflections in the Spree but also to highlight the dome.

This dome is open for visits and it is a place to put on any tour of Berlin, the view from there is interesting in many ways.

Berlin is a flat city, even if some districts think they are mountains: “Berg” in German, like Kreuzberg, Prenzlauerberg, Teufelsberg… The view from the terrace of the building and from the dome is very far reaching.

But for my part I particularly appreciate the dome itself, made of glass and steel, a gentle slope allows you to climb up and discover the city that surrounds it.

In the centre of the dome, a structure full of reflections:

I also really like the concept: to give a view of the parliament chamber. The people above the people’s elected representatives, as you can see here, the blue seats of the parliament are easily recognisable:

A free visit that can be made by day or by night, to enjoy two very different atmospheres.

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