The Reichstag

by Andrew Stein

Soon after arriving in Berlin, I realize that I would like to walk up to the top of the glass dome above the Reichstag. The Reichstag is Germany’s parliament building that was burned down in 1933 and rebuilt. The idea of the glass dome is that the German government is supposed to be transparent and when the parliament looks up at the ceiling, they can see the citizens of their country walking above them. Unfortunately, it is probably more often that they see citizens from everywhere else walking the spiral ramp around the dome.

Reichstag 1

I go to visit this popular Berlin landmark and am turned away because the Reichstag is currently under a terrorist threat. They allow people to visit by reservation only, and reservations can only be made online. Back at the hostel, I try to make an online reservation; however, inconveniently, the english translation of the website does not have the required page. Therefore, with the help of the hostel staff, I navigate the german site and eventually sign up for a time slot. I feel that the challenge involved in seeing this site only made it more desirable for me to try and go, but I am not entirely ready to admit that.

Reichstag 2

On the day of my reservation, I venture back to the Reichstag, go through the necessary metal detectors and scanners and eventually find myself at the base of the dome. There is a great audio tour that recognizes where I am standing and lets me know what I am seeing when I look out over the city. And when I look downwards, I can see Parliament working below. In addition, the architecture of the dome is as impressive as its views. There is even a shade that rotates with the sun to ensure that Parliament is never faced with unwanted glare. The day is relatively clear, the dome uncrowded because of the hurdles required to visit, and the Berlin cityscape shines from this high perspective.