Climbing the Reichstag dome….
Getting into the Reichstag requires some planning and patience, though entry is free to visitors. I tried to book tickets online, but there was nothing available for weeks in advance. We sought inside information from some young staff on the gate, and they advised coming early in the morning to join a queue……which I did the next day…….when I arrived at 7.30am, I found myself second in line.
The lady in front of me had arrived at 7am in the hope of securing tickets for her entire class of students. We chatted until a third person arrived, and discovered he was waiting to get tickets for his whole family. I had been warned about carrying ID for both of us (in our case, passports) but the other two were unaware that ID was needed, especially for those in their groups who weren’t present in the queue. As I secured our tickets for an evening visit (the Reichstag stays open until midnight) I watched the other two walk away dejectedly, presumably to return and make a second attempt.
The Reichstag, which is now the seat of the German Bundestag, was built at the end of the 19th century, to house the government of the German Empire. In 1933 it was severely damaged by fire (believed to have been caused by Nazi arsonists) and more or less fell into disuse until reunification in 1990, when it was decided to move the capital from Bonn back to Berlin, and to rebuild the Reichstag to house the parliament.
The prestigious contract was granted to the famous British architect, Sir Norman Foster, and he replaced the old dome with a magnificent glass dome, including a spiral walkway that takes visitors to the very top. We started our visit just as the sun was setting, so the views over the city illuminations were mixed with the luminescence of the fading sunlight. The upper balcony was a place to linger to enjoy the urban panorama, the base of the dome was also a place to linger, to study the information boards delving into the complex history of the Reichstag.
And right beneath us, looking down into the well of the dome, you could gaze on proceedings in parliament which, at 9pm, understandably had more visitors in the viewing gallery than deputies on the floor.