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Berlin Guidefor vistors and residents
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The Reichstag is Germany's parliament building, located in the centre of Berlin not far from the Brandenburg Gate. During the Cold War it was part of West Berlin, and the Berlin Wall ran directly behind it.
Following Germany's defeat in the First World War, the Reichstag experienced a somewhat chequered history. In 1918 the first German republic was declared from its balcony. In 1933 it was set on fire, ostensibly by enemies of the newly installed Nazi government, who used this as a convenient excuse to tighten their grip on power. During the Second World War it was damaged by Allied bombing and was one of the last buildings in Berlin to fall to the Soviet army in 1945. The war left it a ruined shell.
The new cupola is open to the public and entry is free. It offers excellent views of the centre of Berlin and also an opportunity to look down on German parliamentarians when they are in session. However be prepared for long queues, and it's worth checking ahead because sometimes it is closed for cleaning.
Afficianados of German politics can also gain entrance to the viewers' gallery in the legislative chamber. Prior registration is necessary; the Bundestag's website has further details. The chamber itself is worth a visit for the architecture, particularly to see the cupola's scorpion-like tail hanging over the politicos like a post-modern Sword of Damocles. (Note: if your interests don't cover politics or architecture, skip the chamber and have a doze on the grass in the nearby Tiergarten. You'll have much more fun.)
In some parts of the Reichstag, Russian graffiti dating from 1945 has been preserved as a poignant reminder of the building's history.
Bundestag (Station) (0.2 km), Platz des 18. März (0.3 km), Brandenburg Gate (0.3 km), French Embassy in Berlin (0.3 km), Pariser Platz (0.3 km), Federal Chancellery building (0.4 km), The Kennedys (0.4 km), Swiss Embassy in Berlin (0.4 km), Brandenburger Tor (Station) (0.4 km)