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Berlin: Free visits of the Reichstag

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The view from the top: Peeking into Parliament
The view from the top: Peeking into Parliament

NOTE: This article was published in 2008 and is now out of date. For current information, including important new rules, see our new post about visiting the Reichstag.

As the official seat of the German Parliament, the Reichstag building in Berlin affords you (at no cost!) one of the best views of the city from its famous dome and roof terrace.

Quick history of the Reichstag

The Reichstag was built in 1894 and housed the Parliament until a fire destroyed it in 1933. Consensus has it that the blaze was started by the Nazis in an attempt to stomp out Communism, cut back on civil liberties, and usher in totalitarian rule. Today, the Reichstag celebrates openness and transparency: Visitors climb a dome atop the Parliamentary chamber, and can look down at their legislators in action. How things have changed!

Visiting the Reichstag

While guided tours of the Reichstag can be set up in advance (see comments section below for more info), we recommend nabbing a Berliner (as we did… thanks Hilary!) or taking advantage of the free explanatory brochure, available just past security.

Once in, you’ll take a quick elevator ride to the top of the building, inside the dome. Snap photos of the dome and its surroundings, and start working your way up the dome’s interior ramp, reading the historical explanations along the way. If you grabbed the free brochure downstairs, it’s a helpful guide to the 360-degree city view from the dome’s top. (So, that’s where the new train station is!)

And of course, don’t forget to turn around, away from the city, and look down into the Parliament. (See photo above.) If you’re visiting at night, of course, you may only catch sight of some cleaning personnel.

More information

Check out the Bundestag (German Parliament) web site for details and opening times.

Also, review our list of more free things to do in Berlin.

You can also try this great step-by-step guide available from DK Travel.

Stick with us, Cheapos, and stay tuned for more free tips tomorrow. Next stop? Bratislava!

About the author

Meredith Franco Meyers

About the author: Meredith earned an MFA in fiction writing at The New School in New York City. Her feature stories and articles have appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, American Baby, Self, Bridal Guide, Time Out New York, Fitness and more. She joined EuroCheapo in summer 2007.

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One Response to “Berlin: Free visits of the Reichstag”

As happy as I was to offer my services to you three, there are indeed FREE tours of the Reichstag for anyone who plans a bit ahead. I have a link to their tour information page in this post:

Two Hours in . . . Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Part II

I recently tested the “just pop in” tour method with a visitor; we signed up on a list with the helpful Reichstag staff trolling the lines of waiting tourists and returned at the appointed time two hours later. There was a 45-minute presentation in German, while we sat in the gallery of the Plenary Room; then we were escorted up to the rooftop terrace. If you don’t speak German, it may seem like a bit of wasted time — but at least you are sitting in the temperature controlled building rather than on your feet waiting outside AND there is no other way to get into the Plenary Room, which is also worth a visit.

Am loving this series. Can’t wait to see what other tips you’ve got for us all!

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