The Reichstag is the building where the German parliament, known as the Bundestag, holds its meetings. It is also one of the most visited parliaments in the world, and one of the top attractions in Germany. Since its reconstruction, approximately 39 million people have visited the Reichstag. The modern Bundestag has held its meetings here since 1999, when restoration was finally finished to repair the damage caused by bombs during World War II. It was originally built in 1874 to function as the meeting place for the Imperial Diet, which was the German parliament from 1871 to 1918. In 1933, during the Nazi period, the building was set on fire. During the Cold War, the Reichstag was located in West Berlin; however, it was near the wall dividing the East and West. Perhaps as a result of this and the devastating damage caused to the Reichstag, West Germany established their seat of government in Bonn, the nation’s new capital. The building was used in 1990 for the German Reunification ceremony. Prior to this the building was periodically used for representative meetings and other random events. For example, Michael Jackson performed in front of the Reichstag with a crowd of 50,000 people during his tour in 1988. His performance was during the final day of a 3 day long rock festival in Berlin.
The Reichstag has a dome, rooftop garden, and garden restaurant that guests can visit for free daily from 8:00 AM to midnight with advanced registration. Guided tours of the Reichstag are also available when parliament is not sitting. The tours provide information about the history and architecture of the building as well as information about the parliament. When parliament is sitting you can watch a live Bundestag debate for one hour in the public gallery. The other day we walked by the Reichstag and saw about one hundred people excitedly awaiting their visit to learn about this building’s significance. Below is a picture I took of the Reichstag on May 13th.
The Reichstag is clearly a building with much historical significance, which will be discussed further in a later blog post. In addition, the Reichstag is undoubtedly significant in the present day because of its current function as the meeting place of the Bundestag, where important legislative decisions are made for the entire country. Members of the Bundestag are elected by the German citizens, and this is important because it gives the citizens control over the laws that they are required to follow. Furthermore, the Bundestag is significant because it has the power to create the federal budget and decide when to deploy armed forces to foreign countries.
-Alex Krasnoschlik and Katrina Henderson