Reichstag tour and climbing the dome
The Reichstag building is one of Berlin’s symbols, which can be seen not only from the outside but also inside. How to get on a free tour of the Reichstag? A guided tour of the interior, the Bundestag meeting room, climbing the dome, history and photos.
Model of the Reichstag building
Reichstag in numbers
- 1894 – The Reichstag building was built by German architect Paul Vallot in the Italian Renaissance style.
- 1894-1933 – The Reichstag was the seat of the German Reichstag of the German Empire and the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic.
- 1933 – fire destroys the plenary hall and adjoining rooms.
- 1941 – The building was reconstructed for military purposes.
- 1945 – as the result of the Berlin offensive the Reichstag building was severely destroyed.
- 1973 – West German architect Paul Baumgarten carried out the repair and restoration work.
- 1995-1999 – reconstruction of the Reichstag under the direction of British architect Norman Foster.
- Since 1999 the Reichstag building houses the Bundestag, one of the most visited parliaments in the world.
How to book a tour of the Reichstag
Tours of the Reichstag are available every day at 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 13:30, 15:30, 17:00, 18:30 and 20:00. Tours are not available on national holidays and during parliamentary sessions. Because the hours of parliament are subject to change, tours are not guaranteed. All tours are free, by appointment.
You can sign up for a guided tour of the Reichstag for the current month and the following month. Registration is made on the official website of the Bundestag. The site is translated into 3 languages: German, English and French. In the English version, select “Visit”, “Services for pre-booked visitors – Guided tours”. Go to the record at the link “Online registration”. To sign up for a tour with a visit to the dome, select “Guided tours followed by a visit to the dome,” enter the number of participants and language.
To increase your chances of being in a group, select multiple dates and sessions available (maximum 3). Tours are conducted in groups of 10-25 people in 10 languages: German, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Danish and Norwegian.
If the date you want is not available in your native language, but you know another language from the list, specify it, maybe it will open. We made an appointment 1,5 months in advance, on the day we were interested in (December, 18) only the earliest session at 9:00 was available in English.
After selecting a session, you must fill in contact information for one person: name, last name (as in the passport), address, phone, email. If there is more than one person, this will be the “group leader. Application for a tour – this is not the end of the reservation process, you need to get confirmation!
In 1-2 working days you should receive an email with a request for the data of all participants of the excursion (list of visitors), which are filled by following the link. In a few days you will receive “Your booking confirmation” with an attachment containing the confirmation of the excursion, the list of participants, and the rules for visiting the Bundestag. A sample PDF of the tour confirmation.
If you were not able to sign up for a tour of the Reichstag (there were no available sessions or confirmation did not come), sign up for a visit to the Reichstag Dome. Read more at the end of this article.
How the Reichstag tour goes
Arrive for the tour 30 minutes before it starts. There is a bus number 100 to the Reichstag, the stop Reichstag/Bundestag. Entrance to the building is through a checkpoint located in the annex on the right side of the main entrance.
The entrance system reminds you of the security control at the airport: original documents check, passing through the frame, scanning of the luggage. The names of participants are checked against the list, everyone receives a badge.
The tour of the Reichstag lasts 90 minutes. Our group consisted of about 15 people from different countries, guided in English by Thomas. We learned about the history of the building and its reconstruction, saw Soviet soldiers’ inscriptions on the walls, the door to Angela Merkel’s office, the Reichstag model, the German Deputies Archive, sat in the Bundestag meeting room and climbed the dome with an audio guide.
The interior of the Reichstag is designed to give the impression of lightness and transparency: large glazed areas, steel structures, and light natural stone.
Graffiti around Angela Merkel’s office
There are 159 Soviet soldiers’ inscriptions on the walls of the Reichstag: names, dates, city names, and military unit numbers. One heart-shaped graffiti with male and female names. The inscription “Glory to the heroes who hoisted the Victory Banner over Berlin.” Bullet marks are visible in some places.
Angela Merkel’s office is almost always closed – she works in another building, but you can knock and take a picture of the door with a sign.
Archive of German MPs
In the basement of the Reichstag is a composition by French artist Christian Boltanski called “The Archive of German Deputies.” These are 5,000 metal boxes with the names of representatives who were elected between 1919 and 1999. A black stripe marks the boxes of deputies destroyed by the National Socialists. There is also a box with the name “Adolf Hitler”.
Bundestag meeting room
The heart of the Reichstag building is the 1200 m 2 plenary hall, where the Bundestag meets. The upper rostrums are for visitors. We were told about the workings of the German parliament and the technical arrangement of the dome, which is located directly above the hall.
Those wishing to attend parliamentary sittings can sign up on the Bundestag’s website and listen to MPs’ speeches. You can find detailed information about the Bundestag in the booklet “Bundestag. A brief overview,” which can be borrowed free of charge in Russian.
After answering our questions, the guide said goodbye to us and we took the elevator up to the Reichstag dome on our own.
The Reichstag dome is a futuristic glass and steel structure 40 meters in diameter and 23.5 meters high. It was designed by the British architect Lord Norman Foster. The mirrored panels on the dome are computer-controlled; they regulate the degree of light in the plenary hall depending on the weather. The roof of the Reichstag offers panoramic views of Berlin and the parliamentary quarter. To get a good view, it’s best to come during daylight hours.
The Reichstag Dome can be visited as part of a guided tour or individually. Registration is made on the website of the Bundestag following the algorithm described above, but you must select “Visit to the dome”. Entrance through the same annex checkpoint.
Those who have not signed up in advance stand in line at the Visitor Center across the street from the Reichstag. They sign up for free time, but not earlier than 2 hours and maximum 2 days in advance. You must have your ID card with you.
There are many chances to get on the dome, as it is open from 8:00 to 24:00, run in intervals of 15 minutes. The last group is at 21:45. On certain days the dome is closed for technical work, all information is on the official website of the Bundestag.
Ascent to the dome occurs on a large passenger elevator. Before entering give out a free audio guide (11 languages, some in Russian), you can take a booklet “Panoramas of Berlin. A View from the Dome.
The duration of the audio guide is 20 minutes; it turns on automatically when you approach a particular place. The audio guide talks about the Reichstag building and its surroundings, the Bundestag and parliamentary activities. Around the base of the dome, in chronological order, are documentary photographs of the history of the Reichstag.
A visit to the dome takes half an hour, but there are no restrictions – you can stay longer and visit the restaurant on the roof, which is open from 9:00 to 16:30 and from 18:30 to 24:00.
On the roof of the Reichstag
A tour of the Reichstag was the highlight of our trip to Berlin. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this interesting building and see the best panoramas of Berlin from its dome!