BERLIN -- The newly reopened symbol of German reunification,
Berlin's historic Reichstag building, has become one of the capital
city's hottest tourist attractions.
On Sept. 6, Germany's Bundestag, or parliament, is due to
reconvene in the monumental structure for the first time since
World War II -- making Berlin once again the seat of government for
the nation, moving it here from Bonn.
On the same date, free public tours of the building were
scheduled to begin for visitors. The new Reichstag, including its
dome and restaurant, currently are open to the public.
The timing is appropriate, since this year marks not only the
50th anniversary of the Federal Republic of Germany but also the
10th anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin Wall.
The $330 million restoration of the Reichstag took five years.
The "new" Reichstag retains many features of the old -- like its
105-year-old facade and even some portions of the walls that still
show bullet holes and graffiti scrawled by Russian soldiers in
1945, when the furious battle for control of Berlin raged within
the capitol building.
It also has some new attractions, like the huge, vaulted, glass
dome on top of the building, which has a popular restaurant at its
base and offers some of the city's best views of the downtown
Sessions of the Bundestag will be open to visitors.
Free, one-hour guided tours will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4
p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays,
although only one English-language tour will be available per week,
at noon on Tuesdays.
No advance reservations are necessary.