During our Moms trip to Europe we spent an action packed days in Berlin. On the first day we learned about the alternative scene,. On The second day Berlin History. Finally, the last day we visited Sachsenhausen. However, I am not one to take it easy on a trip. Not even with our moms. Prior to our 6 hour trip to Sachsenhausen, we woke up early to take the first tour of the Reichstag Dome.
What is the Reichstag
The Bundestag is one of the coolest buildings in Berlin. Initially built in 1891 this building is home to the German Bundestag, basically the German House of Representatives. Being a 120 year old building, it has a very similar facade to those you see in most capitol buildings. It is greyish/white, stone, and has many huge columns just like the Utah or Idaho capitol buildings. What sets it apart from other buildings it is fusion of the traditional style of architecture with modern.
In 1999, the German Government added a massive glass dome to the top of the Reichstag Building. The dome has ramps that lead to the very top that provide you a 360 degree view of berlin. The Reichstag Dome is without a doubt the best view of berlin (though some may argue the TV Tower I disagree). Other than the dome, this area also provides roof access to the building.
Visiting the Reichstag Dome
The not only is this the best view in Berlin, it is 100% free. It is an absolute treat. However, the government limits the number of people who can visit the dome a day. If you want to book a free visit to the dome you will need to log onto the Bundestag Website, and provide them the names of those who are visiting and your top three visit dates. Within 24 hours you will get a response confirming your date and time. It is a relatively simple process for a fantastic value. You can also book the opportunity to see the parliament in session, however, since it is in German I did not want to take the spot from someone who would appreciate it more. The dome was good enough for me.
You need to arrive at the building about 10-15 minutes prior to the tour time. Given that you are entering a government building, you will need to pass through security as well as show your passport to enter. Once you enter you are led to an elevator that takes you straight to the dome. You are then guided to the elevator and taken up to the rooftop.
The Dome is a museum of sorts, they offer a free audio guide which at the base walks you through the history of the building and the events leading up to its burning by political parties unknown in 1933.
Okay let’s be honest, the Nazi’s burned it and blamed it on their enemies to gain more power (it seems like the Nazi thing to do). As you go up the building, the Audio guide points out important buildings. Once you reach the top you just get to enjoy the best view (if you didn’t get cruddy weather like we did).
The Reichstag Building is a budget traveler’s dream. A free visit that lets you get the best views of Berlin. Just make sure you book in advance.