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Report - Rooftopping the Reichstag! Berlin - January '13

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Xan_Asmodi, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. Xan_Asmodi

    Xan_Asmodi Cave Monster
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    Visited with me and the missus

    I know this is quite touristy, but I thought you guys would like to see Berlin from a different angle. A bit of history...

    In 1882, an architectural contest was held, with 200 architects participating. The winner, the Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, would see his Neo-Baroque project executed as what we know as the Reichstag. The original building was acclaimed for the construction of an original cupola of steel and glass, considered an engineering feat at the time. But its mixture of architectural styles drew widespread criticism. In 1916 the iconic words Dem Deutschen Volke ("[To] the German people") were carved above the main façade of the building, much to the displeasure of Wilhelm II who had tried to block the adding of the inscription for its democratic significance.

    On 27 February 1933, The building caught fire the circumstances of which are still not entirely known. During the 12 years of National Socialist rule, the Reichstag building was not used for parliamentary sessions. Instead, the few times where the Reichstag convened at all, it did so in the Krolloper building, a former opera house opposite the Reichstag building. The building - which was unusable after the fire - was instead used for propaganda presentations and, during World War II, for military purposes. It was also considered for conversion to a flak tower but was found to be structurally unsuitable. The building, having never been fully repaired since the fire, was further damaged by air raids. During the Battle of Berlin in 1945, it became one of the central targets for the Red Army to capture due to its perceived symbolic significance.

    [​IMG]

    When the Cold War emerged, the building was physically within West Berlin, but only a few metres from the border of East Berlin, which ran around the back of the building and in 1961 was closed by the Berlin Wall. After the war, the building was essentially a ruin. In addition, there was no real use for it, since the capital of West Germany had been established in Bonn in 1949. Still, in 1956, after some debate, it was decided that the Reichstag should not be torn down, but be restored instead. However, the cupola of the original building, which had also been heavily damaged in the war, was demolished. Another architectural contest was held, and the winner, Paul Baumgarten, reconstructed the building from 1961–1964. Under the provisions set forth for Berlin by the Allies in the 1971 Four Power Agreement on Berlin, the Bundestag, the parliament of West Germany of that time, was not allowed to assemble formally in West Berlin (even though East Germany was in violation of this provision since it had declared East Berlin its capital). Until 1990, the building was thus used only for occasional representative meetings, and one-off events.

    The official German reunification ceremony on 3 October 1990, was held at the Reichstag building, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, President Richard von Weizsäcker, former Chancellor Willy Brandt and many others. However, at that time, the role of Berlin had not yet been decided upon. Only after a fierce debate, considered by many as one of the most memorable sessions of parliament, did the Bundestag conclude, on 20 June 1991, with quite a slim majority in favour of both government and parliament returning to Berlin from Bonn. In 1992, Norman Foster won yet another architectural contest for the reconstruction of the building. His winning concept looked very different from what was later executed. Notably, the original design did not include a cupola.

    During the reconstruction, the building was first almost completely gutted, taking out everything except the outer walls, including all changes made by Baumgarten in the 1960s. Respect for the historic aspects of the building was one of the conditions stipulated to the architects, so traces of historical events were to be retained in a visible state. Among them were graffiti left by Soviet soldiers after the final battle for Berlin in April–May 1945. Written in Cyrillic script, they include such slogans as “Hitler kaputtâ€￾ and names of individual soldiers. However, graffiti with racist or sexist themes were removed, in agreement with Russian diplomats at the time.

    The reconstruction was completed in 1999, with the Bundestag convening there officially for the first time on 19 April of that year.

    So, now you have the history, have some pictnoms!

    For contrast with the earlier picture.
    8355238672_dcd72189d9_c.jpg

    The main chamber.
    8355238926_a525f11999_c.jpg

    and the dome
    8355239976_375bcd328b_c.jpg

    The mirrors inside the dome cast light into the chamber below
    8355243284_72d42db028_c.jpg

    The Chamber
    8355242218_bb200dbeeb_c.jpg

    Looking east towards the station Berlin Friedrichstraße Station, particularly interesting because of it's cold war history. In the photo you can also the East German icon the TV Turm, or TV Tower the tallest building in Germany.
    8355241980_b6ae36fd31_c.jpg

    The new Bundeskanzleramt, or German Chancellery building
    8354179111_3794f5b525_c.jpg

    The Carillon Tower in Berlin-Tiergarten and the Victory Column in Tiergarten
    8354178721_1de60db963_c.jpg

    Looking over the Großer Tiergarten to the Charlottenburg district, the old centre of the Western half..
    8354179281_d59ae8371f_c.jpg

    Looking towards the Postdamer Platz. The large bright building is the Sony Centre.
    8355240146_7d9e62e80a_c.jpg

    And finally, visible from the South East corner of the building, The Brandenburger Tor, or the Brandenburg Gate.
    8354178381_6ecc682df3_c.jpg

    That concludes our virtual tour of Berlin's skyline as seen from the Reichstag. As I said, I know it's touristy and undoubtedly there are other people on here who have made the effort to get up too, but I've never seen it here. So here it is.

    8354178879_1973a57f58_c.jpg

    Auf wiedersehen for now, my holiday isn't finished yet and I have some actual exploring to do tomorrow; watch this space!
     

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    #1 Xan_Asmodi, Jan 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013

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