Reichstag or Bundestag?

February 24, 2012 § 7 Comments

the... "Fat Hen", as our tour guide referred to it. The plenary chamber. Berlin. Dec 22, 2011.

To be honest, I don’t know what’s the difference between the two words. All I know is both of them means that I can see the largest glass dome and the German parliament… and I know I can’t pronounce the word “Reichstag” correctly in German. So, I made an online reservation to get on a tour inside, as it was the only possible way to get inside the building. After a quick security check, a group of visitors and I were taken inside the building and waited for our tour guide to show up. Sad news, a beautiful lady informed us that the English guide had called in sick so our tour was canceled. Seriously? The Parliament building only had ONE person who can guide in English, who can just skipped work for a bunch of scheduled visits? Thankfully, the boss of that lady came over and decided to step in and gave us a tour by himself. Phew! So we followed this old man with heavy German accent, and our tour began ๐Ÿ™‚

This was a place that had the old and new co-existing next to each other. We first went to a historic looking corridor with some old photos and construction plans for the building. Curiously, there were some bullets hole and graffiti around. They were left by the Soviet Red Army in 1945. It was a nice decision that they didn’t clean these part of history up during the reconstruction in 1990s.

It looks like the nature eventually die and become a flatline... strange. I'm sure there's another explanation. Reichstag, Berlin. Dec 22, 2011.

A wall of tin boxes by a French artist, Christian Boltanski. Reichstag, Berlin. Dec 22, 2011.

There were some art installation around. I particularly admire the one at the basement which was a wall of tin boxes. Every one of them had a name and a year written on, representing every single member who had been elected into office democratically. Even Hitler had his tin box there. However there was one tin box that has no names and years on, it was simply blacked out. It represented the year during the WW2 when no one was elected democratically. Very thoughtful and powerful, this was a kind of art that touched my hear. Moreover, this piece of art would keep on building up, it was an art in progress. I looked at this piece as an art more than politics. As the artist said, all this people built up the parliament, they were the reason of what we have today. This installation was like having all these people supporting the Bundestag from the bottom, like a foundation. It just fitted in so appropriately.

We then moved on to see some meeting chambers: some are bigger and more modern, some are smaller but a bit more historical looking. I wonder if people get envious of the other party got a bigger room or a more modern interior. Of course also stopped by the plenary with full of purple chair and full of natural light. It just made people feel good when being inside it. Very open and very airy. It was a different design philosophy than the Dutch parliament in the Hague, which I visited few years back.

So bright and airy. The plenary chamber. Reichstag, Berlin. Dec 22, 2011.

The largest council chambers in the parliament. Reichstag. Berlin. Dec 22, 2011.

More art in the lounge where the press and media were not permitted. Love the hanging lights! Reichstag. Berlin. Dec 22, 2011.

After the tour was done, we thanked out guide and went out to the dome and had a nice view of the city. However, I think the best view was the glass dome itself. It was so much fun to capture different pattern and composition with the glass and the screen!

The glass dome was so beautiful but freezing up there! Berlin. Dec 22, 2011.

For more information about the art inside the Reichstag, check this video out:
German Bundestag: Art in the Reichstag Building


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§ 7 Responses to Reichstag or Bundestag?

  • It is the most fabulous building! Did you see photos of when Christo wrapped it?

    • Katharine says:

      YES! I just really admire the fact that the German let artist wrap up their parliament , as an art! So cooooool! Loved it. I actually love the wrapping of the Reichstag above all other creation he and his wife did.

  • Gernot S says:

    Reichstag was the name until the end of the 2nd world war – Reich means something like Empire. After WWII this was no longer appropriate and the “Deutsche Reich” became the Bundesrepublik Deutschland – therefore the change to Bundestag.

    Nice entry – I am visiting Berlin in two weeks – can you tell me where you registered for the tour?

    • Katharine says:

      Thanks for the explanation! Thankfully I didn’t use the the word “Reichstag” when I was asking direction haha. that would make me sounds pretty silly I guess ๐Ÿ˜‰

      To get on to the tour, please follow the instruction here:

      I registered pretty early on (no particular reason) in July, for a visit in December, and at that time they only take reservation by emails. However I noticed that they seems to have changed the application method a bit. I guess you can just do it online through their website. Hope this help.

      Have a great visit in Berlin! I love this city. hope to return soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  • […] already booked my visit at the Bundestag (thanks to Kathy at and I will attend the ITB for two days, the rest of my program is still […]

  • […] “When Kathยดs travelling” who wrote some great article, about her trip to Berlin Rate this: Share […]

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