The cupola, Reichstag building, Berlin, Germany
The Reichstag building in Berlin was constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire supposedly set by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe, who was later beheaded for the crime. That verdict has been a subject of controversy over the years. The National Socialist Party (NSDAP) used this event as a casus belli to begin a purge of opponents of the Nazi Party in Berlin and to ban the Communist Party of Germany. Marinus van der Lubbe was officially pardoned by the German state in January 2008, 75 years after his conviction and execution. In 1967 a Berlin court had symbolically changed the sentence of van der Lubbe to an eight-year prison term and in 1980 the same court had lifted the sentence altogether. In 1981 a West German court overturned the conviction of van der Lubbe on the grounds that he was insane, however campaigners pressed for full state pardon on account of van der Lubbe having been convicted by a Nazi court. The full state pardon of van der Lubbe was made possible by a law passed in Germany in 1998. This exoneration is symbolic and will not lead to compensation for van der Lubbe's heirs.
The building was made safe against the elements and partially refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after the reunification of Germany in 1990, when it underwent reconstruction led by internationally renowned architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it became the meeting place of the modern German parliament, the Bundestag.
The Reichstag as a parliament dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and ceased to act as a true parliament in the years of the Nazi regime (1933–1945). In today's usage, the German term Reichstag or Reichstagsgebäude (Reichstag building) refers to the building, while the term Bundestag refers to the institution.
The Bundestag dome is the iconic large glass dome at the very top of the building. The dome has a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. The main hall of the parliament below can also be seen from the cupola, and natural light from above radiates down to the parliament floor. A large sun shield tracks the movement of the sun electronically and blocks direct sunlight which might bedazzle those below. Construction work was finished in 1999 and the seat of parliament was transferred to the Bundestag in April of that year. The dome is open to anyone without prior registration, although the waiting queues can be very long, especially in summertime (August, in particular).
References sources : wikipedia