Reservations Required for Reichstag Dome
|The dome's security measures were tightened after Rick Steves' Germany 2011 guidebook went to press, catching travelers off-guard.|
Spontaneity is now verboten at one of Berlin's top attractions
By Cameron Hewitt
One of Berlin's top sights is its Reichstag building. The historic home of the German parliament, it became engulfed in a 1933 fire (giving rise to Hitler), was further damaged in World War II (during Hitler's last stand), and wound up in the no-man's land of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War (within earshot, Ronald Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."). After the Wall came down, the Reichstag was completely restored and topped with Lord Norman Foster's gorgeous glass dome. With a ramp spiraling up to the top of the dome — offering panoramic views of the city — the Reichstag is one of Berlin's top attractions.
Unfortunately, getting into that dome has recently become much more complicated. For years, visitors could simply show up and wait in line. But in recent months, authorities have decided that having a long line of people next to such a high-profile building made it a potential target for terrorists. As a precaution, they've been experimenting with different ways of limiting visitor access to the dome.
While the specifics are likely to change, as of my last visit in May of 2011, a visit to the dome is possible only if you reserve in advance on the Reichstag's website (instructions below). Reservations book up several days in advance (likely up to two weeks in the busiest summer months).
It's also possible to email your request directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another option is to reserve a table at the Dachgarten rooftop restaurant; unfortunately, those slots book up even earlier than the regular dome visits — up to two or three months ahead during peak season (€15-24 lunches, €17-30 dinners, outside of meal times you can reserve a table for just a coffee, daily 9:30–16:30 & 18:30–24:00, for reservations call 030/2262-9933, email@example.com).
Once you have a reservation, you can simply report to the attendants at the security checkpoint at the appointed time. Give them your name, and they'll let you right in.
If you're in town without a reservation, it's possible (but unlikely) that the attendants could let you in if you just show up and ask nicely when it's not too crowded. (But don't count on it.)
No matter how you get into the dome, it's worth it to ascend this living symbol of Germany's tumultuous history and optimistic future.