After the Brandenburg Gate, probably the most iconic Berlin landmark is the Reichstag, with its impressive glass dome. Both the interior of the parliament building itself and the dome are open to the public and free to visit, so this is obviously a pretty popular thing to do in Berlin!
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While you can only visit the parliament itself when it’s not in session, and only by guided tour, the dome is open all the time and you do not need a chaperone. You must book an appointment in advance, either way though (do that here, and note that you’ll need your passport information) and be on time!
A visit to the Reichstag Dome is arguably more interesting than than parliament, at least architecturally. It also offers panoramic views of Berlin, and a big advantage (for me at least!) is that you can take your time and visit at your own pace with no set time limit on your stay.
Arriving at the entrance to the Reichstag on Scheidemannstrasse with your printed out appointment reservation, you’ll pass through airport-like security and then be ushered up through the main entrance and into a lift, taking you to the roof, from which the dome is accessible.
Here, you can pick up a free audio guide in multiple languages. Even if you don’t listen to the whole thing, I recommend taking one, as it’ll give you some good context for what you’re seeing, both in terms of landmarks around the Reichstag and the history of the building itself.
Wile the façade of the original structure of the Reichstag dates back to the 1890s, the dome itself was only completed in 1999, and the stark contrast is immediately noticeable. Its design was intended to be both visually appealing and as an energy-saving device. The giant tower of mirrors that rises through the centre of the dome is actually designed to reflect sunlight down into the government chambers below, meaning they rarely need to use electrical lighting in daylight hours.
If you visit at night time, your view of the surrounding skyline will be somewhat reduced, but you will get a good view into the chambers below. However, I would say that sunset is a good time to visit, as the light and reflections on the mirrors can be quite delightful.
Remember, if you’re coming to Berlin for just a short trip and want to visit the Reichstag Dome, make sure you book an appointment well in advance, as it can get filled up very quickly, especially in summer.
Have you been up into the Reichstag Dome? Do you think it’s better experienced at day or night time?