Combining architectural styles of a Gothic church and an ancient Greek temple, the Reichstag building is one of the main tourist attractions in Berlin, mostly due to the glass dome on the top that houses a spiral walkway leading to a prodigious, 360° view of the city. This German parliament building was first built 1894 but fell into disuse during WWII. The Nazis never used it for governmental purposes.
The modern version was completed in 1999 and houses the Bundestag, which is the constitutional and legislative body in Gemany. Security measures abound, such as the necessity of making reservations with a picture ID before hand, a pre-entrance with an airport style x-ray scanning area, and a set of double security doors upon entering the actual building. Along the spiral walkway up the building, the free audio tour provided information about visible buildings as they came into sight. At one point, the audio guide asserted "the transparency of the glass represents the transparency of Germany's state." Hearing this made me wonder to what degree the information in these audio guides, or even tour guides, provide true information. Transparency in government is always an ideal, but telling the listener this invites more questions in my opinion. I also think that to say that the glass in the dome represents something more than what it is, is a far reach. Lastly, many green roofs were visible from the dome of the Reichstag, which is worth noting. See tomorrow’s post for some photos of a sustainability-minded bar.
Mauerpark is another famous area of Berlin. On Sundays (the day I went), the area has a flea market and performances at an outdoor amphitheater. I was specifically going for the famous “Bear Pit Karaoke” that took place at 3 pm on Sundays. Unfortunately, it was drizzling every now and then and the karaoke was cancelled. That didn’t stop the throngs of people crowding the flea market for the large amounts of food stalls, vintage clothing vendors, and arts and craft tables. This is the type of local experience one can take part in if enough time is spent in a city. It might not be on the top of a tourist’s to-do list but I think it is priceless to be able to experience events like this. Something interesting I thought about while there was to what extent people will get food from a certain stall because there is a big line. One might think because they have such a big line it must be good food, a well-known food stall, or both. After twice passing a food vendor with a long line, I sampled one of the menu items and found out the food was not that great. The next food stall was selling Belgian waffles and ice cream and that was delicious.
After just the first day in Berlin, I noticed a predominant characteristic of the buildings. So many of the larger buildings had prominent, grid-like window layouts. I definitely saw more than the amount of pictures I took of them. Many of the window grids were also tall and narrow. I’m not sure why this was the case, or if it was done on purpose, but it was very obvious to me.