I only had two full days in Berlin this summer so I had to be super selective when deciding what to see. Especially as I started to realize just how big Berlin really is during my preliminary research. For example, I found that a walk from my hotel’s neighborhood of Mitte to trendy Friedrichshain was an estimated 50-minute walk...and those were two sections of town right next to each other! So the challenge was on: lots of ground to cover, so much to see and do, little time, big decisions. Challenge accepted.
Thankfully I came across a post on Guten Blog, Y’all on a visit to the Reichstag. Margo strongly recommended coordinating a reservation to tour its glass dome at sunset for a beautiful view of the city. Inset my imaginary personal ad here - forget the long walks on the beach. Mine would be more along the “enjoys views of cities from above anytime, but particularly at sunset.” Need I say that a visit to the Reichstag then would be part of a perfect date?
The Reichstag houses the German parliament. It was built in the late 1800’s but was severely damaged by a mysterious fire in 1933 and sustained additional damages by the end of WWII. The Reichstag was rebuilt a bit after the war but it wasn't until the 1990’s that it was fully restored, with the glass dome completed in 1999.
Today you can visit the dome for free - it just requires some booking in advance. You can request an entry time on the official website here, and a confirmation will be emailed to you. (It's a test to see how well you know your fellow travelers in your party - date of birth for each person is required for registration as well.) It is a government building and thus security is tight. You’ll need to bring a printed copy of confirmation notice, valid ID, and go through airport-like security screening. Then you will be whisked up to the dome in an elevator, receive a free audio guide, and have unlimited time to ascend the ramp and enjoy the view.
It started to sprinkle a bit on our walk over to the Reichstag but luckily the weather cooperated enough to grant us a brilliant sunset despite the light rain shower!
The Reichstag is located in west Berlin, close by the Brandenburg Gate. The dome offers views of the huge Tiergarten park, Museum Island, and more.
The glass dome provides a beautiful view over the city. The openness and transparency also symbolizes a new, reunified Germany. One where the government does not convene behind closed doors but under the scruntiny of the people. Literally, you can look down into the parliament's meeting space from the dome.
[Here's a good time to clarify with my limited understanding of German the difference between the word "Reichstag" and "Bundestag," two words that will come up when visiting. The building itself is called the Reichstag. The Bundestag, the German parliament, is the elected body of government that meets inside the Reichstag.]
This glass dome, bathed in the natural light of the setting sun, was a truly magical place. The 360-degree view of the city was a not-to-be-missed experience. And hopefully these photos help give you a sense why this is one of the two Berlin sights I'm featuring this week!
PLAN YOUR VISIT:
Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin, Germany
Admission is free, but advanced registration is required. Visit the official website here to make an online reservation. The confirmation letter and valid ID must be presented to be admitted. The visit includes a free audio guide as well.
It is possible to visit the dome if a prior reservation has not been made in advance by going to the nearby Visitor’s Service center (must be done at least two hours before the entrance time) - see the website for details.