The new Reichstag - transparency and democracy
Ten years after the Berlin Wall came down, the German parliament returned from its "temporary" home in Bonn to the "Reichstag" in Berlin, abandoned almost 70 years earlier after the fire of 1933.
During the period of the "divided" Berlin, the Reichstag was an almost forgotten building - tucked away in a quiet corner of West Berlin, right up against the Berlin Wall. Hitler never used it while he was in power - after the Reichstag fire, the Hitler-ruled parliament moved out into the nearby Kroll opera house. But even so, it had come to symbolise the Third Reich itself.
Soviet forces seized the building in 1945; a famous photograph shows soldiers waving a Soviet flag on the roof of the ruined Reichstag, with panoramic views across a destroyed Berlin. Now, the restored and reopened building, with a glass dome, has become a powerful symbol of the new Berlin.
The British architect, Sir Norman Foster, was responsible for the new Reichstag - and the fact that a foreigner was chosen to redesign the new national parliament can itself be seen as symbolic, suggesting an openness which is very different from the country's past.
One main theme of Foster's new Reichstag is transparency - not just politically, but in the literal sense. The glass roof looks directly down onto the debating chamber itself. Old and new are interwoven, too. The graffiti scrawled by the Soviet forces, which was uncovered during building work, have been preserved for posterity, with slogans like "9 May 1945: Stalingraders in Berlin!" The graffiti serves as a reminder of the tumultuous times that the Reichstag has gone through.
The Reichstag is open for visitors.
Platz der Republik 1
Tel: 0049 030 227 32 152
Opening hours: daily 8am-12pm (last admission 10pm)
Official website of the German parliament, which is located in the Reichstag. In German, English and French.
Impressions of the Reichstag
Images of the Reichstag and some information on its history. In English.
Foster and Partner portfolio: Reichstag
Click on "credits" - under "client" it says plainly "The Federal Republic of Germany". In English.