The Reichstag building was completely finished in 1894 after the creation of the German Reich in 1871. Paul Wallot's entry in the Reichstag design competition of 1882 was chosen after judges were taken aback by the design. It already included a modern glass and steel dome, which was a very avant-garde idea architectural idea at the time. Its early years were a relatively peaceful time.
The Reichstag sustained alot of damage and destruction over the course of the 20th century. There was the infamous Reichstag Fire of 1933 which allowed Hitler -then chancellor- to be granted emergency powers under the Weimar constitution, and gain alot more power, in fact this was a key moment in the establishment of Nazi Germany. The fire was blamed on lone-acting bricklayer Van Der Lubbe, who was also affiliated with the communist party, allowing Hitler to eliminate th communists politically thereafter. The fire completely destroyed the chamber of Deputies hall and many other key administrative rooms and after the Second World War, in 1954, it was necessary to demolish the original dome. Restoration by Paul Baumgarten was only completed in 1961 and it helped give the building a new function as a venue for parliamentary committee meetings and exhibitions. It was located in the former Western part of the then divided Berlin, just beyond the Berlin Wall, a short distance away from the north of the Brandenburg Gate.
After Germany was reunified, it was clear that the Reichstag would need modernising. British architect, Sir Norman Foster was commissioned to carry out the gargantuan conversion. Amongst what resulted was the Reichstag’s stunning new dome and is critically acclaimed as amongst one of the most impressive architectural features, cleverly designed to reflect natural light into the plenary chamber. Ecological considerations about renewable energy sources resulted in heating and air-conditioning technology fuelled by rape seed oil with underground refrigeration and heating units.
The Reichstag clearlty played centre stage to many key events in German history. Amongst the most eventful moments were SPD's (Social Democratic Party) member Philipp Scheidemann’s proclamation of the first German Republic in 1918, after the First World War, following the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the end of his rule as a monach and indeed the end of the monarchy altogether. The official reunification of Germany was held in the Reichstag building on October 2, 1990. Germany was officially reunified at midnight on October 3, 1990 following the Unification Treaty between the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany which came into effect on September 29, 1990.
A lift ride to the top of the building to a viewing terrace gives breathtaking views of Tiergarten, from where you can see the Victory Column and other city views. A visit to the Tiergarten, where the Reichstag building is, is a must for tourists and citizens alike. There are many other attractions there but the Reichstag building with its rich heritage, which made Berlin what it is today, cannot be missed!
Platz der Republik
Tel: 030 / 22732152