Hi guys! It’s my favourite day of the blogging week – welcome to Travel Tuesday!
If you’ve been reading, you’ll know that a few weeks ago I started to post about the student exchange I did in Berlin, Germany years ago. I started with my first day in town, which was busy busy. I also talked about the day we decided to head to Dresden and I took my favourite photo ever! I’ve realised, while looking through my pictures of that trip, that there is still so much to talk about, so let’s get on with it! Today, I thought I would bring you on a private tour of the Reichstag.
The Reichstag is the building that houses the German parliament. It was built at the end of the 19th century. During the rise of Nazism in the 1930s, a wing of the building was burnt down. When Germany was divided, the parliaments were housed in different buildings. It was after the reunification that the Reichstag was finally restored and reopened in 1999 to finally house the German parliament once again.
Since we were a group of foreign students living in Berlin, it was arranged that we got a private tour of the Reichstag. So one cold afternoon of January we headed out and met at the back of the Reichstag, just next to the River Spree. We waited about 10-20 minute before finally being let in by the security team. We passed the customary security and then met with our guide who spoke perfect French! (Yes yes, remember I went to French school until I was 18, right?)
We visited along and sincerely, I think it was the highlight of my trip to Berlin. I loved everything about this visit. I thought the building was absolutely gorgeous, you could feel all the history that it had lived through and above all, it was fascinating to learn so much about the Germany politics, history and culture! What I loved particularly from the tour is the way the past wasn’t forgotten. They acknowledged everything that transpired, and the guide explained to us that since it is part of their past they cannot ignore it and must use it to make the present the best that it can be. I found it fascinating!
The first thing that intrigued us were all the signs written in Russian on the walls. Everywhere we went we could find some. We had some Russian girls in our group so they were very curious! The guide ended up telling us that when Berlin was liberated, the Russian soldiers who came into the Reichstag started to write on the wall ‘this is my name and I was here’. A proof of their part in history! I thought it was a beautiful story. The people in charge of the Reichstag decided to leave bits of those graffitis as part of the newly restored building. The guide added that just before the Reichstag reopened its doors officially, someone suggested to ask a translator to come verify all the writing. It’s good they did, because apparently they found a few insults hidden amongst the nice memories!
We then headed downstairs to view the ‘wall’. The meaning of this wall is that it is the foundation of the Reichstag, what the Bundestag leans on. I think (forgive me as I try to remember the details of this visit of 6 years ago) that it stands like a piece of art. You can walk in and from the inside, you see that every little ‘brick’ that this wall is composed of has a name written on it. It is the name of every representative ever elected to the German Bundestag. Here, our guide reminded us again that the past cannot be forgotten or ignored since it is the foundation of the present and so it was agreed that every name would be kept, like the one of Heinrich Himmler.
We continued the visit and the history lesson as well. We came upon this window and our guide stopped to tell us about the famous 1933 fire. It is the wing that we see through this window that burnt that cold night of February. He explained how the cause was never clear and yet gave the perfect excuse to the Nazis to start persecuting people. That night marked the official end of the democracy in Germany in that era.
The line you can see on the ground, slightly illuminated, is the line that marks the location of the Berlin Wall. If you walk around Berlin you might notice a line of brick, or of light in this case, and it reminds of the Wall that once separated a country.
Below is another detail that I found fascinating. On this linear screen, they display the texts of many official speeches spoken at the Reichstag. They say that it would take someone 24h of standing outside that window to be able to read them all …but of course, they might be told off by security much before that!
After that we were finally able to step into the main chamber of parliament. We were obviously on the visitor’s level! Our guide explained many things to us, but I can’t say that I remember much of it now! I love anecdotes, but I’m sure he was explaining lots of political stuff! I just remember something about the blue seats and how very imposing that eagle was!
our lovely guide
After the visit, we were allowed to go visit the famous dome of the Reichstag. It was truly beautiful to walk up. The only thing that I regret deeply is the fact that it was past 4 or 5pm when we made it up and because it was early January, it was already pitch black outside. What would have otherwise been an amazing view over the city turned into a lot of starring at my reflection through a dark window. Also, my photos were terrible because of the lighting! My apologies! But I managed to salvage a few pictures I took on our walk up to put here!
Hope you’ve enjoyed your private tour of the Reichstag!!
Ever visited Berlin? What is your most memorable visit?xx
Every week, each of us will be choosing our favourite post from the previous week, so make sure to check out those highlighted posts! For last week, I wanted to highlight the post of Carly from Let Us Wanderlust about Mount Wellington! I’ve been obsessed with Tasmania since watching Masterchef Australia years ago and love the view over the island from high above!
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