The only thing we had planned for our time in Berlin was a visit to Reichstag, the building which houses the German Parliament (Bundestag). We don’t make it a point to visit the centers of government in each country we travel to, but the Reichstag is a bit unique. It draws thousands of visitors, not for Parliamentary proceedings, but for the glass dome that sits atop the building. The cupola, designed by British architect Lord Norman Foster, has helped to make the German Bundestag the most-visited parliament in the world.
I knew nothing of the building’s history or the parliamentary history prior to our visit. All I knew was that I wanted to get to the top of that dome. I’d read in more than one place that a visit to the dome is a must in Berlin, that it offers the best views of the city. I’m a sucker for scenic overlooks so the Reichstag made it on my very fluid list of must-dos in Berlin.
Admission to the Reichstag and dome is free; however, you MUST register online ahead of time if you’d like to go inside. Telephone registration is not possible, and neither is just showing up and hoping to get in. When you register online, you will be shown available entrance dates and times in week-long increments based on the type of visit you select (independent vs. guided). So, if it’s last minute, there may not be any availability during your time in Berlin. My suggestion is to register well in advance and to be flexible.
We opted for the independent tour and I took advantage of the free English audioguide. The walkway to the top is a ramp (no stairs, thankfully) and there must be sensors or some other technological feature that’s way above my head embedded in the hand railings. As I walked, slowly or quickly, the audioguide was completely in sync with my location. I didn’t need to worry about pausing the narration if I slowed down or stopped to look at something. It also provides explanations of the prominent buildings and landmarks around the city. Since we were at the Reichstag on the first full day of our Berlin visit, I appreciated the introduction to the city.
We were lucky to visit on a bright and sunny Sunday morning when the crowd was manageable. There was no rush to get to the top and get out so we took our time and enjoyed the warm sunshine. I snapped dozens of pictures as the views from the dome and the surrounding terrace are spectacular. Equally as impressive are the swirls of glass and metal inside the dome, the design of which makes for interesting photographs. Enjoy the photos I’ve included below and, if in Berlin, definitely consider a visit to the Reichstag.