A trip to the German Bundestag, aka the German Parliament, is a must while in Berlin! The Reichstag is synonymous with the democratic reunification of the city and nation. It is perhaps the most famous landmark in Berlin, and is definitely a must when it comes to site seeing.
I’ve been by it several times and have taken obligatory touristy photos, yet have never been inside. A good friend’s birthday was last month, who recently moved to Berlin, and I decided it was time to finally go on a proper tour.
Bundestag Tour How-To
- Reserve a tour spot online -don’t be a sucker and wait in line all day
- Make sure you know the birthday of the people you want to sign up for the tour.
- Select several times you would like to go on the tour and submit a booking request.
- Confirm your request and wait a bit
- look into other cool things Berlin has to offer that aren’t so touristy in the meantime
- Receive a confirmation email that you can go on the tour
- Show up to your appointment with the confirmation email, valid ID, and voilà!
- you don’t need to show up 30 minutes early like they ask you to 😉
It’s pretty straight forward! Don’t forget to bring your camera 📸
I went on the general tour, which lasted about an hour and a half. Our lovely tour guide told about 15 of us all about the history of the Reichstag building, starting with initial construction, to demolition, to renovations and current use. There are several types of tours, offered in different languages so be sure to look into what type of tour you want to take. Next time around, I’m going on the architecture tour!
Highlights of the tour include going into the debating chamber. Apparently there are several versions of the official German eagle, Bundesadler. The massive national symbol has been dubbed the fat chicken or the fat hen due to its plump nature.
Checking out the debating chamber was great, however, it was no match to going up the glass dome designed by Sir Norman Foster. The transparency of the dome symbolizes the ability of the people to watch over the government and guide its democratic path. Additionally, the dome commemorates the original cupola from 1894.
In true Berlin fashion, there is preserved cyrillic graffiti from soldiers that stormed the Reichtag when the second world war was almost over, before the city was divided. I’m starting to think there isn’t a place in Berlin without graffiti tags.
Additionally, I really enjoyed the installation by Christian Boltanski, the contemporary French conceptual artist. He created a hallway of tin boxes, labeled with names of various elected german Parlimentarians from 1919-1999, including Adolf Hilter and Angela Merkel.
Sign up for an informative tour around the Parliament building if you’re a first timer in Berlin and you won’t regret it! Afterwards, have a walk around Mitte, and hit up the other must-sees tourist destinations such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Memorial, and Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz.