Reichstag, home of German govt., to feature tours starting Sept. 6


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 area.

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.

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