Skip to content

Reichstag in Berlin – a guided tour

Designer: Norman Foster (Foster + Partners), Paul Wallot | 
Redeveloped version completed: 1999 |

One of the many highlights of our stay in Berlin during our visit to the city in May 2017 was doing a guided tour of the Reichstag building. It was most inspiring and illuminating visit to this historic and culturally significant building in Berlin. The photo essay in the gallery below captures what we got to see during the very informative 90-minute tour.

Architectural history of the Reichstag

Originally built to house the German Parliament, the Reichstag was intended to symbolise national unity and the aspirations of the new German Empire in 1871. Built to a Neo-Renaissance design by Paul Wallot, it was completed in 1894. In 1918, Phillip Scheidermann declared the formation of the Weimar Republic from this building.

A fire destroyed the main hall in 1933. With the Nazis subsequently coming into power and the onset of WWII, the building was not rebuilt. A Soviet flag flying on the building in May 1945 became the symbol of German defeat. The dome and its ornamentation was removed between 1957 and 1972 and of course the Berlin Wall was erected near it in 1961. As well as providing a meeting place for the lower house of the German Bundestag (Parliament), it also made a spectacular backdrop for huge festivals and rock concerts, much to the annoyance of the East German authorities.

On 2 December 1990, it was the first meeting place for the newly elected Bundestag following German reunification. The latest phase of rebuilding occurred between 1995 and 1999 to a design by Sir Norman Foster. It transformed the Reichstag into a modern meeting hall below an elliptical dome.

Booking a visit in advance

The building offers guided tours to the public. Due to popularity and limited availability (only when Parliament is not sitting), you can’t just rock up and expect to join one of these tours. We researched this way in advance and pre-booked our tour several months in advance. It meant you simply have to commit to a time slot and show up at the appointed time and you’re in!

Gallery - photo essay Part 1

All photos by Selwyn Lemos and Ban-Foo Leong

Gallery - photo essay Part 2