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The Bundestag

Updated: Jun 19

A photo of the German Bundestag taken from the banks of the Spree River in Berlin

Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus, Bundestag


The Historical Evolution of the Bundestag

The Bundestag's origins can be traced back to the German Empire, established in 1871. Initially known as the Reichstag, this parliamentary body was part of the Imperial Diet, comprising two houses: the Reichstag (the lower house) and the Bundesrat (the upper house representing the German states). The Reichstag was elected by universal suffrage, marking an important step toward democratic governance in Germany.

After World War I, Germany transitioned into the Weimar Republic (1919-1933). During this period, the Reichstag continued to function as the parliamentary body, although its power was often limited by the executive branch. Political instability and economic difficulties characterized the Weimar Republic, leading to a fragile parliamentary system.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler’s rise to power led to the dissolution of the Reichstag. The Reichstag Fire Decree allowed the Nazi regime to establish a totalitarian state, effectively ending parliamentary democracy. The devastation of World War II further disrupted Germany’s political institutions, leaving the country divided and in ruins.

Post-World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones. The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was established in 1949, with Bonn as its capital and the Bundestag as its new parliamentary body. This period marked the beginning of a democratic and stable government structure.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 set the stage for German reunification. In 1990, Berlin was reinstated as the capital of a reunified Germany, and the Bundestag moved to Berlin. This move symbolized a new era for Germany, marking the nation's progress toward unity and democracy.


Architectural Significance of the Reichstag Building

The Reichstag building, originally designed by architect Paul Wallot, was completed in 1894. This grand structure featured a classical facade with a large dome, symbolizing Germany's political aspirations. The building served as a central point for the German Empire’s parliamentary activities until it was severely damaged in the 1933 Reichstag fire.

The Reichstag building fell into further disrepair during World War II. It wasn’t until after reunification that the decision was made to restore and modernize the Reichstag to house the Bundestag. British architect Sir Norman Foster was commissioned for this monumental task, completing the project in 1999.

Key Architectural Features

  1. The Glass Dome: Foster’s redesign included a striking glass dome, a modern addition that provides natural light to the parliamentary chamber below and symbolizes transparency and openness in government. Visitors can walk up a spiraling ramp to the top of the dome, offering panoramic views of Berlin.

  2. Energy Efficiency: The Reichstag is a model of sustainability, incorporating cutting-edge energy-efficient systems. Solar panels, a biofuel-powered combined heat and power plant, and rainwater collection systems make the building eco-friendly.

  3. Historical Preservation: Despite its modern elements, the Reichstag retains significant historical aspects. The preserved graffiti from Soviet soldiers in 1945 serves as a poignant reminder of the building's turbulent past.



The Bundestag, housed in the iconic Reichstag building, stands as a testament to Germany's resilience and commitment to democracy. From its origins in the German Empire to its current status in a reunified Germany, the Bundestag's journey reflects the nation's complex history. The architectural marvel of the Reichstag, blending historical preservation with modern innovation, encapsulates this spirit of progress and unity.

As Germany continues to evolve, the Bundestag remains a central pillar of its democratic framework, housed in a building that tells the story of the past while looking forward to the future.


Your Trip Berlin

Want to add a visit to Bundestag to your group trip or team event? Contact Your Trip Berlin or book an obligation-free 30-minute meeting to get your trip started!


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