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Domes of Berlin

Translated by Helen Hardy — 3 years ago

Original text by Paulina Palestina Ruezga

Architecture students in Berlin

To contextualise the story, I'll let you know now that my friend César and I have a special love of architecture, so we felt like kids in a sweet shop when we visited Berlin. We were overjoyed to find ourselves in a city with so much history, and above all, with so many buildings with contemporary architecture which up until this point, we'd only been able to look at in books.

In general, Berlin really surprised us due to how friendly its people were, how efficient the public transport was and how safe we felt walking through the streets at any time of day or night (though I imagine like all places it has its exceptions). Something a bit strange though was that in the hostel we stayed in we didn't have a key for the rooms or for the front door - it was all done on the basis of mutual trust.

Anyway! Something very important you should always do in a new city is get yourself a map, and we found ourselves a free one, which was quite good and lead us to incredible places and allowed us to really make the most of our time in the city. Everyday, we enjoyed the sunsets and public spaces.

The day after we walked to and visited the Brandenburg Gate and the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, we wandered through the Tiergarten Park, taking photos and listening to the street musicians. We eventually arrived at Platz der Republik, where we could stand and admire the Reichstag building.

Domes of Berlin

The architect Norman Foster, extremely famous in the architectural world, was in charge of the remodelling of the building in 1996, and it was then that the cupola design was added and not before.

Domes of Berlin

A friend who'd visited Berlin before told us that we had to reserve our tickets beforehand online to visit the cupola. There is no entrance fee, but they obviously run security checks on everyone that enters, since it's a public government building.

You can reserve a space for your visit using this link:

www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/kuppel/kupp/245686

After you queue with everyone else and are granted entry with your reservation, there is the option of a guided tour. We, however, decided to go up alone and use our previous architectural knowledge.

It's an incredible experience entering a space like this. What's really interesting about cupolas is that you can get up very high due to the structure of the half-sphere, and the best thing about the Reichstag's is that you can walk it from start to finish.

Domes of Berlin

The materials and their layout give the illusion of guiding you through the ascending corridors which snake around the cupola, with its central structure covered with mirrors seeming scaly and allowing visitors to view the place from different perspectives.

Domes of Berlin

In the centre of the cupola and at its bottom it's possible to look through a crystal roof at ground level and see what seems to be the building's meeting room, a circular auditorium.

Domes of Berlin

Domes of Berlin

At the end of the visit, you enter out onto a terrace which has the best view of all, where you can take incredible photos and enjoy the end of your visit to Foster's cupola.

Domes of Berlin

Domes of Berlin

Domes of Berlin

Domes of Berlin

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The German Parliament

Translated by Helen Hardy — 2 years ago

Original text by Maika Cano Martínez

The Reichstag building is one of the most important in Berlin, being the headquarters of the German Parliament's Lower Chamber and, in my opinion, one of the prettiest buildings in Berlin.

Constructed only a few centuries ago, the Reichstag building has nonetheless survived many eras of German history and reconstructions, sometimes as Parliament's seat, and on other occasions, not. Kaiser Wilhelm I intended to entirely destroy the building, but it survived the attack. However, after suffering a fire and being bombed at the end of the Second World War, the building was badly damaged and the cupola entirely destroyed. The reconstruction of the building was not completed until the 1990s, carried out by famous architect Norman Foster.

The Reichstag is currently the seat of the Federal Republic of Germany's Parliament, also known as the Bundestag, though this has changed its location several times throughout German history. The function of the Reichstag is, in its most basic form, to represent the will of the people and is the highest federal legislative organ - that is to say, it is the place where federal German laws are decided.

The German Parliament

In my opinion, it's a very elegant and majestic building. Rather large in size and elongated, consisting of three symmetrical levels. There are two identical levels on each wing of the building topped with a tower. Most notable is the central level, with a typical form of six columns crowned by and supporting a large triangle. Atop this sits the famous glass cupola.

The German Parliament

The glass cupola really contrasts with the rest of the building, since it is a very modern feature amid the classical style of the remainer of the building. In my opinion however, it suits it quite well and gives the building a special touch, differentiating it from other important buildings with similar forms. The cupola is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin, with a viewing platform inside it which presents visitors with some beautiful views of Berlin. Visiting the cupola is free of charge, but a time slot must be reserved a few days in advance; there is also a restaurant inside. We were lucky enough to visit Berlin with a friend who had been there on her Erasmus exchange and who guided us through the city, telling us various interesting facts. She told us that some of the best views of Berlin could be had from the cupola, and reserved us entrance tickets a few days in advance to visit it. However, disappointingly, we weren't able to go in, since it had been snowing and some snow had entered the cupola, making it unsafe to visit. They asked us to come back another day, but we were only there for a day and a half, so weren't able to. We were left feeling quite disappointed, since our friend had told us that aside from the great views, the cupola itself was very impressive anyway and would have been great to visit. Another time, perhaps.

In any case, to visit the building itself, there are small white security cabins with security guards on either side, and it seems like it's there they control visitor access to the Reichstag. Opening hours are from 8am to midnight, but I recommend going early as there is always a long queue.

The square the Reichstag is located on is quite large and in the Tiergarten district, right next to the famous Tiergarten gardens. They say they're very beautiful, though of course when we went there, it had been snowing and although it was a great experience walking through the park in the snow, we left quite quickly as everything looked the same in the snow and we couldn't properly appreciate its beauty.

An important yet little known monument can be found on one side of the Reichstag. We found it hard to find it at first, and ended up catching sight of it finally on our way to the Reichstag. It's called the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism, dedicated to victims who were persecuted for being gypsies, and treated almost exactly the same as the Jews were. The monument consists of a small swimming pool with a triangle in its middle, and is accessed via a gate, though the monument is open 24/7.

The German Parliament

We walked to the Reichstag from the Brandenburg Gate the first time we went there - it's on the right hand side. The second time, however, we got the metro, and the nearest stop is called 'Bundestag' (on the U55 line).

The Spree River, the Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten and the Holocaust Monument are all near to the Reichstag, and Potsdamer Platz isn't too far away either.

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