The Reichstag stands out as one of Europe’s significant landmarks, especially at a time when reconciliation, peace and tolerance across the continent appear to be under abnormal pressure.
Located just a frisbee throw away from the Brandenburg Gate, it is a powerful symbol not only as the seat of German power, but also as a clear window into Europe’s past, present and future.
Past reflections are focused on Germany’s recent history since the Reichstag’s construction between 1884-1894. Its present day significance is simply that it is the centre of Europe’s most prosperous parliament. This in turn echoes how the future of Europe can be directly linked to a spirit of reconciliation without losing sight of history.
Which is why, while we in Britain go to the polls to decide on whether to ‘Remain’ or ‘Brexit’ Europe, I am writing this blog on one of my favourite European buildings. It is a classic example of how things have changed for the better in Berlin since the height of the Cold War, when I first lived there in the early 1970s, aged ten. It now offers 360-degree views across a vibrant, youthful, fun and above all harmonious central European city.
As my photos show, whether visiting during the day or night you are in for a treat, dominated by Norman Foster’s hugely impressive glass dome, which feels a far cry from the original architecture so synonymous with darker periods of local history.
The original dome’s destruction, caused by a mysterious fire, lead to a purge in 1933 by the Nazis of political opponents. In response to the end of the Cold War, the dome has been replaced with an altogether more friendly design. As German reunification brought about a decision to use the building as the seat of Parliament again, the new-look, glass-dominated, uber-light construction is fun, fanciable and free to visit.
As long as you plan your visit at least two days in advance – by booking online – you can enjoy exploring the roof terraces, dome and public areas – and views down into the Parliament itself.
Similarly the rooftop restaurant is open daily, with essential advance booking accessible by email or calling +49 (0)30 226-29933. Full visiting details can be combed from the Deutscher Bundestag