Reichstag Building

Berlin, Germany

The Reichstag building (Reichstagsgebäude) is a historical edifice in Berlin, constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. After World War II, the building fell into disuse; the parliament of the German Democratic Republic met in the Palast der Republik in East Berlin, while the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.

In 1894, after ten years of construction, the Reichstag was completed and its dome towered above the city castle. Yet the Parliament building remained and, from that point onwards, it has reflected the turbulence of German history. On 9 November 1918, Deputy Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed from the window the creation of a republic. On 27 February 1933 under mysterious circumstances that still have yet to be explained, the Reichstag caught on fire, destroying the chamber and the dome. The Reichstag fire served as a pretext for the Nazi regime to persecute their political opponents.

After being destroyed in the war, it was rebuilt between 1961 and 1971 in a simplified form without the dome, which was blown up in 1945, according to plans by Paul Baumgarten. After German reunification, the German Bundestag decided to use the building as a seat of Parliament again.

Between 1994 and 1999, the Reichstag was redesigned and expanded by the British architect Sir Norman Foster as a modern Parliament building while retaining its extensive, historical dimensions. The accessible glass dome, which initially generated a lot of controversy, has since become one of the landmarks of Berlin. Since 1999, the German Bundestag has been convening in the Reichstag building.

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Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.