Visitor's Guide to the Reichstag in Berlin

See Berlin from the Glass-topped Government Building

Berlin, Reichstag building
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The Reichstag in Berlin is the seat of the German Parliament. Located steps away from the Brandenburger Tor, this is a must-see for visitors to the city. Step into the seat of German government and admire panoramic views Berlin.

History of the Berlin Reichstag

The foundation stone was laid by Wilhelm I in 1884, but the building wasn't completed until 1894. The now iconic words, "Dem Deutschen Volke ("To the German people"), were put above the main entrance signifying the rise of a democratic society.

 

The 1933 fire that forever altered the look of the building also altered the state of Germany and the world. In a climax of political hysteria, Hitler used the incident to seize total control of the government. This was one of the moments that directly led to World War II. If the Communists actually were responsible for the fire, or Hitler's own supporters, may never be known.

It stood in shambles throughout the war, also enduring heavy bombing. It was also served as a symbol for the end of the war when a soldier raised a USSR flag over the ruined Reichstag on May 2, 1945. After the war, the parliament of the German Democratic Republic was moved to Palast der Republik in East Berlin with the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany moving to the Bundeshaus in Bonn.

In the 1960s, attempts at saving the building were made, but a full renovation wasn't complete until reunification on October 3rd, 1990.

Architect Norman Foster took on the project and in 1999 the Reichstag became the meeting place of the German parliament again. Its new modern glass dome was a realization of the theory of glasnost  (new, open policy in the Soviet Union where people could freely express their opinions.)

Everyone is welcome to tour the Reichstag (with a little planning) and view active parliamentary proceedings.

This site also offers one of the best views of the Berlin skyline.

How to Visit the Reichstag

Visiting the Reichstag requires advanced registration. This may be as simple as stopping by the site, showing ID and returning at a specific time, but it is best to register online before you plan on visiting. Requests can only be submitted with a complete list of participants including surname, first name and date of birth.

Even with registration, there is often a line to get into the Reichstag. But don't worry, it moves fast and it is worth the wait. Be prepared to show your ID (preferably a passport) and go through a metal detector. For disabled visitors, families with small children, and visitors who have reservations for the Reichstag restaurant, guides will escort you to a special elevator entrance.

There are additional services like guided tours, exhibitions, lectures, and you can even sit in on a plenary session. You can watch the government debates live from the public gallery for about an hour (note that this is in German only).

Reichstag Audioguide

While 90-minute guided tours take place at every day at specific times (9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm,6:30 pm, 8:00 pm), anyone can take advantage of the comprehensive audioguide.

As soon as you exit the elevator atop the building you can pick up your set in a variety of languages. It provides insightful commentary on the city, its buildings, and history over the course of a 20 minute, 230-metre-long ascent up the dome. Special audioguides will also be available for children and for people with disabilities.

Reichstag Restaurant

The Berlin Reichstag is the only parliamentary building in the world that features a public restaurant. Restaurant Käfer at Bundestag and its roof garden are located on the top of the Reichstag, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner at reasonable prices – breathtaking views included.

Hours: 9:00 to 4:30; 6:30 pm to midnight

Visitor Information at the Reichstag

  • Address: Platz der Republik 1, 10557 Berlin
  • SBahn: Unter den Linden (take S1, S2, or S25)
  • Bus Station: Unter den Linden (take Bus 100)

Opening Hours at the Reichstag

Daily: 8:00 til midnight
Every quarter of an hour
Last admission: 9:45 pm
Admission: Free

What Else to See Around the Berlin Reichstag