It isn’t every day that an email turns up addressed to me from the Deutscher Bundestag, complete with its official federal-eagle crest.
The substance of the email was to give me permission to visit the roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building in Berlin.
It was fortunate that I had checked the website for visitors to the Reichstag prior to arrival; several days’ notice is required to gain admittance; it is not somewhere you can just turn up willy-nilly, on spec.
I have always admired the design of the Reichstag’s dome. Designed by Norman Foster and built by Waagner-Biro, the construction is meant to symbolise the reunification of Germany post-1989. For me, though, rather than invoking something that brings people together, I have always thought that the central column of the Reichstag’s dome is reminiscent of a rapidly-rotating whirlwind, tearing everything asunder.
It is a beautiful construction: the glass dome, more simply symmetrical than the similar ‘glass bollock’ of London’s City Hall; the interwoven, twin spiral ramps, reminiscent of Bramante’s staircase in the Vatican Museums or Frank Lloyd Wright’s at the Guggenheim; and the mirrored cone at its core.
The mirrors on this glass vortex are positioned such that it is possible to view the democratic workings of the Bundestag in the chamber below the dome; in practice, most visitors use them simply to find a reflection of themselves in order to take a selfie. Or is that just me?
Climbing the ramp to the summit of the dome affords wonderful 360° views across the Berlin skyline; from the darkly-wooded green expanse of the Tiergarten to the west; to the olive-spiked cocktail stick of the Berliner Fernsehturm and Alexanderplatz to the east.
Reaching the top of the dome, there is a circular, wooden bench, upon which, sprawling full-length, it is possible to lie flat, looking directly up at the sky above. I hog a prone position contemplating the great beyond for longer than is my due but, I am not just idly cloud-gazing, I am conscientiously watching out for whirlwinds.
© E. C. Glendenny
E. C. Glendenny is watching out for whirlwinds.
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