With the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the subsequent re-unification of Germany in 1990, an opportunity arose to bring the Federal government back to where it belonged in Central Berlin.
I don’t suppose it took much deliberation as to where to locate the new parliament. The Reichstag may have been battered and bruised from the events of the 20th century, but it was still standing, and the wasteland that was left surrounding it created a blank canvas for developers who could no doubt envisage a new dawn for a new Germany in the new millennium.
Politics isn’t an exciting subject for many people, but rarely has politics been boring in Germany, and if you venture into this part of the city, which is more than possible, then it’s worth knowing a bit about what you’re looking at.
The Federal Republic of Germany has two legislative chambers – the Bundestag and Bundesrat – and for comparison, the Bundestag is the lower chamber (equivalent to the House of Commons in the UK) and the Bundesrat is the upper chamber (equivalent to the House of Lords).
The Bundestag, like most lower chambers is where the majority of legislation gets discussed, debated, and passed, and members meet in the Reichstag.
The new buildings that have been built adjacent to the Reichstag and alongside the River Spree are all part of the Bundestag and are sometimes collectively known as Federal Row.
I think there are three buildings that have the most impact on the visitor – The Chancellery, the Paul Lobe Building, and the Marie-Elisabeth-Luders Haus.
I happen to like a lot of modern buildings, but unfortunately, I can’t count the new Chancellery building amongst them, which is a bit of a shame really because it just happens to be the largest government headquarters building in the world.
The Paul Lobe Building is a place where a lot of the day to day office work gets done, which doesn’t sound particularly exciting, and probably isn’t, but I like the design of how a bridge has been built across the Spree to meet the Marie-Elisabeth-Luders Haus, symbolising the unification of east and west. This latter building serves as a parliamentary library, scientific resource, and other academic services – whatever that means.
Whether this collection of buildings will have the unifying effect that its design is supposed to have, I suppose only time will tell, but at least you can see where some of those Euro millions have been spent!