Technically it wasn’t really her but her ‘minions’ we visited at the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, but it was exciting anyway. And thanks to hubby’s new connections, i.e. being a student again, we got a free tour of the whole building. Thanks Goethe Institut!
This used to be the seat of the German parliament in the early 1900s. It was opened in 1894 but then damaged badly during the infamous fire in 1933, a crime that still hasn’t been fully solved. (They got one guy for it but nobody knows if he acted alone or whether he had a bit of help from the Nazis.)
In any case, after that the German government had other things on their mind than rebuilding a house of government. A half-hearted attempt was made in the 1960s and it was used as a representation of the German government in West Berlin but never with any serious intentions. Only when unified Germany decided in the early 90s to move their government back to Berlin did the Reichstag get some action again. Foster did the now famous dome – which he didn’t want to do at all, he wanted to build something the Berliner quickly dubbed “die Tankstelle”, the petrol station – and other important architects from around the world kitted out the interior. So now it looks like this:
And extremely modern on the inside:
The did a good job preserving the old though. All through the building you will find graffiti from Russian soldiers who scribbled their names and dates (May ’45) on the walls when they took over the building during the battle of Berlin. With the rebuilding of the Reichstag they actually treated these graffitis, mainly done with coal, so that they are now perfectly preserved and cannot rub off.
Of course the main area of the Reichstag is the “Plenarbereich” or parliament. It’s in the middle of the building and like everything else it is surrounded by glass, suggesting transparency and openness.
The dome is open year-round for visitors and there are long lines everyday. But you get a wonderful view from the top and can see your government hard at work below so it really is quite special.