by Matthew Jordan
Today the Reichstag is a major tourist attraction and home to Germany’s democratic parliament. The building in my opinion obtains architectural brilliance, as well as having a complicated history covering five distinct times in German history. The Imperial Age and World War I, the troubled Weimar Republic, Nazism and World War II, the divided Cold War, and finally a unified Germany.
That’s why I find this building so fascinating and iconic of Germany’s history. For example, there are many signs of Germany’s imperial past still attached to the building design. As the sheer magnitude of the building represents the unification of the nation for the future as a successful western style democracy. What further fuelled my interest and amazement of the Reichstag was the belief that the renovated building became a focal point of the New Berlin, because it represents the political modernization of the city. The fact that one building can have such vast connotations therefore speaks volume of the power that architecture can actually have. Accordingly the renovated Reichstag no longer stands for aggression and imperialism, but is now acclaimed as an emblem of the New Berlin and of German democracy.
It was very interesting to find out that since 1999, the Reichstag building has housed the German Bundestag, “centre of the country’s political life and…supreme democratic organ of the state.” (Bundestag.de, 2016). The location of the Reichstag completely astonishes me. The Brandenburg Gate is extremely close, for example. In fact the whole area and even the entirety of Berlin, gives me a feeling that I find hard to explain. It is the feeling that there is so much history in one place and so many unforgettable historical events have occurred here that cannot be relived or witnessed again. Just the memory. Therefore, I believe that the Reichstag gives off the feelings of the serious history of Berlin.
Architecture has played an important role in the ‘New Berlin,’ and in the circumstance of the Reichstag building, there is no difference. The renovated design by Norman Foster, who added a modernistic glass and steel dome to the nineteenth century building, the dome is enormous and is open to the public which is extremely famous and well known.
The Reichstag was completely in ruins after the war and it had no use during the Cold
War. It was restored in the 1960s and, until the 1990s, the building was mainly used
for representative events, but its artistic value was still important for Germany.
To conclude, I estimate the Reichstag to be one of the greatest and most famous buildings within German history and the fact that it is still proudly standing today shows how far Germany has come. That is why I love the Reichstag so much.