Bundestag (German Parliament)

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The Reichstag is the German parliament building, one of the most famous Berlin attractions. It is the seat of German Bundestag, place where laws are made. It is the heard of German democracy that proves the dedication “Dem Deutschen Volke” (To the German People) mounted above the western portico of the Reichstag Building. The previous seat of German Bundestag was Bonn.

Sometimes the Bundestag is mistakenly called the Reichstag. From 1894 to 1933 the building was the venue for the sittings of the Reichstag, the Parliament of the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. After the World War II, the people of Berlin continued to refer to the building as the “Reichstag”, even though the “Reich” had long since ceased to exist.

The main organs of the Bundestag are the Presidium, President of the Bundestag, Council of elders, Committees, Committees of inquiry, Study Commissions, Petitions Committee and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces.

The building dates back to 1890s, the opening ceremony was on 5 December 1894. The construction had lasted ten years and its architect was Paul Wallot. Before moving Bundestag from Bonn to Berlin, the reconstruction was needed. Sir Norman Forster won the competition on 20 June 1991. There were some stormy discussions in the Council of Elders about the glass dome, but finally they agreed with its construction. The reconstruction was finished in April 1999. Sir Forster managed to preserve the historic shell of the building while creating the interior space for a modern, outward-looking parliament. German Bundestag is then a modern parliament wrapped in a historic cloak. The outer shape of the Reichstag building has not changed. Modern elements, however, have been integrated; old architecture is combined with futuristic-looking forms. The foundations of Reichstag building are still carried by oak piles that were driven in when construction began. Additional support now comes from twelve massive concrete pillars erected to carry the new glass cupola that weights 1200 tonnes. It has already become an internationally recognized symbol of Berlin. People from all the world visits the Bundestag and with about three million visitors a year, it is the world’s most-visited parliament.

Probably the most famous part of the interior is the federal eagle hanging on the front glazed wall of the plenary chamber, above the heads of the Members. It is often nicknamed “fat hen”. This heraldic symbol of the Federal Republic is made of aluminium and weights around two and a half tonnes. It covers a vast area of almost 58 square metres.
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