Germany’s Iconic Reichstag Dome By Norman Foster
The Reichstag building houses the German Parliament, the Bundestag, which is equal to the American Congress. It has created attention and discord since its inception. Originally begun by Kaiser Wilhelm I and then built in the 1890s under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, it became a symbol for Germany. In 1933 in what became to be known as the “Reichstag Fire”, Communists were accused of burning down the building. There was never proof of who actually burned the building. The remaining ruins, including the original dome, were further destroyed during World War II. Over the years, partial reconstruction took place and the building was used as an occasional conference center.
After the reunification of Germany in 1990, and the move of the capital from Bonn to Berlin, the reconstruction of the Reichstag building began. In 1995 the artists Jeanne-Claude and Christo wrapped the entire building in white material, which created a sensation in the art world.
Internationally famous British architect, Sir Norman Foster, was chosen to update the interior and create the glass dome on the roof of the Reichstag. The glass dome is environmentally friendly and energy efficient since the reflections of the mirrors of the central cone direct light and warmth to the chambers, the Bundestag, below. Interestingly, the top of the dome is open, and very cold in the winter. Two steel ramps allow visitors to walk up and down and enjoy a complete panoramic view of the city of Berlin.
In addition to the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag has become one of the most famous landmarks in Germany. The restaurant on the top, Käfer, is definitely worth a visit.