Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Great Architecture: The Reichstag, Germany's Parliament

The pictures below were taken last summer, but I am just now finally now getting organized enough to post them. I had the good fortune last July to take a guided tour of this great building. 

The Reichstag building is a wonderful mixture of old and modern, situated in the heart of Berlin. It has survived having been burned down, looted, and then being (mostly) abandoned for decades. This is where the German parliament met from 1893 to 1933. Having been damaged by a fire in 1933 it stood mostly empty for six decades.  After the reunification of Germany in 1990 the building was thoroughly reconstructed under the direction of British architect Norman Foster.  Since 1999 it serves once again as the seat of Germany's parliament.

Looking up to the cupola from the parliamentary chamber.

The front of the building is secured by fencing, visitors have to go through a security checkpoint to enter (this is pretty normal for the times we live in unfortunately).

At the time of the reconstruction the intent was to refurbish the building while keeping its history intact. Thus today visitors can still see some the Russian graffiti from WWII on the walls.

The outer walls of the building were kept intact while on the inside has been completely rebuilt. It is a seamless merge between old and new.

The architects and builders took great care in preserving history while making it a fully functioning modern building.

Looking into the chamber from the back side.

The white rectangles in this room bear the names of all who served in the German parliament. 

Parliamentary offices are housed in this area.

Looking into the bottom of the cupola from the building.

The cupola has a spiraling walk up to the top with 360 degree views of Berlin.

It is truly a stunning structure.

The Reichstag today is the second most visited attraction in Germany, with the cathedral in Cologne being the first. Visiting the cupola is a fairly straightforward matter of securing a ticket and showing up. I was lucky to be able to go on a guided tour of the entire building, including the parliamentary chamber. These tours require weeks of advance planning and are only conducted in German. I was very lucky they my friend Dora has arranged this visit for us.  It was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Berlin.

No comments:

Post a Comment