Reichstag - Reichstag information and pictures

The Reichstag is a historical edifice in Berlin which houses the German parliament. Officially opened in 1894, the building served as the seat of the Reichstag until 1993 when fire broke out, causing severe damages. During the Nazi period, only a few members of the Reichstag met in the Kroll Opera House at Königsplatz. The sessions of the GDR parliament took place in the Palace of the Republic, situated in East Berlin. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the parliament held its sessions in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.

The building was partially renovated in the 1960s, but full restoration was carried out only after the reunification of Germany in 1990. The reconstruction works took place under the supervision of the renowned architect Norman Foster and upon completion, the building opened again as the seat of the German Parliament.

The renovation of the Reichstag is rooted in four ideas: firm commitment to public accessibility; sensitivity to history; the role of the parliament as a democratic forum; and a sound environmental agenda. Emphasizing the significance of transparency and clarity, the glazed cupola has become a new symbol of Berlin and the German democratic process.

Visitors of the Reichstag are offered 45 minute lectures which provide information about the working methods, functions, and composition of the German parliament, as well as about the architecture and history of the building. Following the lectures, visitors can visit the dome of the Reichstag. In addition, visits to the plenary sittings give the opportunity to watch the parliamentary debates for an hour while members of the Bundestag may invite groups for visits to the parliamentary sittings or organize study visits. The latter include 45 minute lectures on the working of the Bundestag, discussions with Members of Parliament who invited the participants, a photo and a snack. There are also guided tours at the Marie-Elisabeth Luders Building providing information about the art and architecture of the edifice. Young persons and pupils can learn about the Bundestag by participating in a role-playing game called ‘Experiencing Parliamentary Democracy. Finally, there is a Bundestag exhibition on Gendarmenmarkt which traces the history of the German parliamentary system. The exhibition is entitled ‘Milestones – Setbacks – Sidetracks’, and visitors may choose between 90 minute group tours or 30 minute individual tours on a variety of topics covered by the exhibition. Tours in English, Italian, and French are offered on request.

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