The Bundestag, sometimes called the Reichstag, or the German Parliament building in English, is definitely a must-see! I have some very fond memories of this building. First of all, there was a picture of it on my very first German textbook, so to me, this building is Germany. Second of all, I think I’ve gone up to the dome on almost every trip I’ve ever taken to Germany, and when I lived there, I think we took all of our visitors up there (when the weather permitted–they close the dome and the terrace to visitors during bad weather).
After the reunification, Germany’s capitol was moved from Bonn to Berlin, and this building became the new house of their Parliament. After being destroyed in World War II, the building has been rebuilt in a way that preserves the old style: the outside frame was preserved, and the glass cupola is in the style of the old dome but still has a very modern feel to it. The dedication on the front of the building, Dem deutschen Volke, means “to the German people”.
I love a good view of the city, and with a visit up to the dome, you will get an extraordinary view. You can also visit the terrace and walk around outside. It’s great on a nice summer evening when the weather is pleasant and it stays light out well into the evening.
Here’s what you need to know before you visit the Bundestag:
1. Hours of operation
The dome of the Bundestag is open daily from 8am to midnight. They let groups in every 15 minutes, and they let the last group up at 10pm. They are closed from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve and periodically throughout the year for maintenance. Check their website for closures. Even if the dome is closed during your visit, you can still go up to the terrace on the roof, which I also highly recommend, even if you get to go to the top of the dome. They also close during bad weather, especially when there’s a lot of snow or ice.
2. It’s free, but you have to register first
Make sure to go to their website well before the day you’d like to visit, because you have to register online before you go. The spots fill up quickly, so you’ll want to do this in advance. You’ll need to register everyone in your party at the same time, and you’ll need to know everyone’s first and last names, as well as their dates of birth.
3. Definitely get the audioguide
The audioguide is excellent! It’s really neat: it knows where you are in the dome, so as you walk up the spiral ramp, it tells you interesting facts both about the building and whatever is in your view at the moment. It doesn’t cost extra, and they offer it in several different languages. They even have one for kids and one in simple language, which would be great for students learning German!
4. There’s a restaurant
I’ve never been to the restaurant because I could never afford it when I lived there. (Actually, I have no idea how pricey it is–I think I just assumed I couldn’t afford it at the time because I always saw people in fancy clothes walking in.) Anyway, the restaurant is on the rooftop, and you really can’t go wrong with that. If you want to eat there, you’ll have to call or email to make a reservation. Contact information can be found here.
5. Best time to go
I recommend going when it’s light out so you can take advantage of the beautiful view from the top of the dome; however, the view at night is pretty stunning, too. It really depends on the experience you’d like to have. If you’re in town long enough, you could go twice (once at night and once during the day), or you could try to time it just right so you could go up while it’s still light out and stay up there until the sun goes down. Either way, you will not be disappointed!
I want to hear about your experiences, too! Have you been to the dome or the rooftop terrace at the top of the Bundestag? What was your favorite part about it?