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The Reichstag, is the home of the German Parliament the Bundestag, and one of Berlin's most historical landmarks. The building, completed in 1894 from a design by Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, was financed using reparation money after Prussia’s defeat of France in 1871. Later in 1916 a bronze inscription was saying “Dem Deutschen Volke” which translates into “To the German People “. The bronze for the lettering came from seized French cannons.

On 27th February 1933 the Reichstag was the subject of an arson attack. A Dutch left-wing radical Marinus van der Lubbe was arrested at the scene, apparently as the sole culprit. The Nazi party, who had been in power for less than a month, immediately accused the German Communist Party the KPD as being behind the incident. The Nazi’s used the incident to attack the socialist opposition, who in the following election simply collapsed against them . Who actually was responsible for the arson attack is still hotly disputed, one investigation placed doubt that van der Lubbe had the time or the ability to set the fire and many believe that the Nazi’s themselves were responsible. Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that the Nazi party benefited greatly from the incident as it acted as a springboard to electoral success. Some repairs were carried out after the fire but it suffered further bomb damage in 1945 during the Battle of Berlin.

There were a number of debates regarding the restoration of the Reichstag and an architectural contest was held, this was eventually won by Paul Baumgarten, and reconstruction was started in 1961 and completed in 1964. After unification the decision was made to move the Bundestag from Bonn to Berlin. This decision resulted in a further renovation to a design by Sir Norman Foster, who added a glass dome over the plenary hall, although quite controversial at the time, the dome has become one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.  This latest renovation was completed in 1999.

To visit the Reichstag, you should apply in advance online. The blend between the old building and the modern, functional parliament chamber is well worth seeing. Another interesting feature is the graffiti left by the Russian solders left after they captured the Reichstag at the end of the Second World War. The Berlin Reichstag is the only parliamentary building in the world that features a public restaurant. It is located at the top of the building, and boasts some breathtaking views, but for a truly knockout experience, take the lift to the top of the building, then continue via the spiraling ramp that makes its way around the mirror clad funnel that rises to the top of the dome. The views from here over the surrounding city are superb.

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