Reichstag, Berlin, 2013

To visit the German Bundestag housed in the Reichstag building you need an invitation.  We applied, sending our passport information and addresses, on line.  I got our PDF invitation letter just before we left for Warsaw.  Our appointment was 9:30 Monday evening.  We got off our train grabbed a cab, dropped our stuff at the hotel and went on to the Reichstag.  The building was burned as Hitler came to power.  Hitler blamed it on the Communists.  Others blame it on Hitler as an excuse to grab more power.  The building was largely unused just on the western side of the wall until reunification.  The Bundestag commissioned Norman Foster to redesign the inside and replace the glass dome that went down in the fire.  He came up with an iconic design.  The glass dome has ramps winding up the dome to the open top which allows heat to escape from the legislative chamber below.  Inside the dome is a cone with mirrors that reflect natural light and warmth into the legislative chamber under the dome.  If it gets too hot a huge sun shade can follow the sun, providing some shade.  You can see the chamber from the dome as you spiral up.  Foster says the glass dome with its the view into the chamber symbolized the transparency of German democracy.  Looking at it in another way, you can also look at the chamber indirectly, in the cone’s mirrors.  This gives the legislative chamber a fragmented, almost “fun house” effect.  That with the hole at the top of the dome to let hot air escape allows me to make a completely different interpretation of the project.  However, the full moon shining through the top of the dome on a clear night, and the views over Berlin are worth the climb.  There is a third option.  Looking down from the top, at the spiraling ramp and mirrored cone makes me think that I have dropped into the computer generated set for a future version of Deep Space 9.  The rooftop restaurant is open to midnight so we took our supper on the roof of the Reichstag, overlooking Berlin.  The mineral water served at the Reichstag is branded as “Bismarck.”

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