Reichstag Dome

Address: Platz der Republik 1 | BERLIN | Germany
Latitude/Longitude: 52.5186, 13.3761

The current Reichstag dome is an iconic glass dome constructed on top of the rebuilt Reichstag building in Berlin. It was designed by architect Norman Foster and built to symbolize the reunification of Germany. The distinctive appearance of the dome has made it a prominent landmark in Berlin.

Design

The Reichstag dome is a large glass dome with a 360 degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. The debating chamber of the Bundestag, the German parliament, can be seen down below. A mirrored cone in the center of the dome directs sunlight into the building. The dome is open to the public and can be reached by climbing two steel, spiraling ramps that are reminiscent of a double-helix.

The glass dome was also designed by Foster to be environmentally friendly. Energy efficient features involving the use of the daylight shining through the mirrored cone were applied, effectively decreasing the carbon emissions of the building.

The futuristic design of the Reichstag dome makes it a unique landmark, and symbolizes Berlin’s attempt to move away from a past of Nazism and Communism and instead towards a future with a heavier emphasis on a united, democratic Germany.

It looks distinctly similar to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial dome, a structure that stood out in the landscape after the nuclear bombing, invoking the memory of a Hiroshima devastated by the Atom Bomb. It may therefore be an implicit symbol of the nuclear attack that Germany would have been subjected to if she had not surrendered before the Atom Bomb was available.

Construction

With the reunification of Germany and the decision to move the capital from Bonn back to Berlin, it was also decided that the original Reichstag building be rebuilt along with a new dome that emphasized a unified Germany. Architect Norman Foster won a commission to design and rebuild the dome in 1993. Foster originally wanted the dome to be a cylinder, after his original design of a parasol-esque building was rejected due to the unrealistic cost. The design of the dome was at first controversial, but has become accepted as one of Berlin’s most important landmarks.

Original dome

The original Reichstag building was proposed due to a need for a larger parliamentary building. Construction did not immediately begin due to debates between Otto von Bismarck and Reichstag members. In 1894, after an architectural contest, the winner, Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, was chosen to design the building, which featured a very large dome.

In February 27, 1933, the dome was destroyed along with the rest of the building in the Reichstag fire, an act blamed on the Communists, despite there being little actual evidence to determine who actually started the fire. The remains of the building and the dome were further demolished with the bombings of Berlin through World War II and the eventual fall of Berlin to the Soviets in 1945. While the Reichstag building was partially reconstructed in the 1960s as a conference center, the dome was not. Much of the dome and the ornaments that decorated it had been removed by that time.



⇒ Architecture Guide to BERLIN