The Reichstag, the seat of the German Parliament, is one of Berlin's most historic landmarks. It is close to the Brandenburger Gate
and before the unification, it was located right next to the Berlin Wall
After the founding of the German Empire in 1872, there was a need for a large parliamentary building in Berlin. It would take another ten years before there was an agreement on the design. A competition was held and out of 183 submissions, a design by Paul Wallot was chosen. The German architect created an imposing neo-Renaissance building, 137m long and 97m wide (450 x 318 ft).
The building was constructed between 1884 and 1894, mainly funded with wartime reparation money from France, a result of Prussia's defeat of France in 1871. The famous inscription 'Dem Deutschen Volke' (To the German People) was added later, in 1916, by emperor Wilhelm II. The bronze letters were cast from seized French cannons.
In 1933 fire broke out in the building, destroying much of the Reichstag. It is to date still unclear who started the fire, but the Communists were blamed. It gave a boost to Hitler's Party, the NSDAP, who would soon come to power.
The building was damaged even more at the end of the war, when the Soviets entered Berlin. The picture of a Red Army Soldier raising the Soviet flag on the Reichstag is one of the most famous twentieth century images and symbolized Germany's defeat.
After the war, the Reichstag ended up in West Berlin, right near the Berlin Wall
. It was reconstructed between 1958 and 1972 but the central dome and most of the ornamentation were removed. During Berlin's division the West German parliament assembled here once a year as a way to indicate that Bonn was only a temporary capital. After the unification the decision was soon made to move the Bundestag (Germany's Parliament) from Bonn to Berlin.
This decision resulted in a renovation which started in 1995 and was completed in 1999.
The design by Sir Norman Foster added a glass dome over the plenary hall. At first the subject of much controversy, the dome has become one of the city's most recognized landmarks.
Since April 1999, the Reichstag is once again the seat of the Bundestag. A part of the Reichstag is open to the public. An elevator brings you to the building's roof and you can even walk all the way to the top of the dome via a spiral walkway.