CapitolLast December, the Capitol unveiled its $621 million visitors’ center.  I got around to checking it out in May (thankfully when it wasn’t flooding…).  Visiting the Capitol is pretty easy – as long as you have reservations – more on that later.

The Capitol visit starts with a brief 20 minute video about the United States and the Capitol building.  Construction of the Capitol began in 1793 with its much anticipated conclusion in 1892.  Let’s just say a couple wars got in the way… As I mentioned earlier, the building used to house the Library of Congress as well as the Supreme Court.  Most striking of the building is the dome which is topped by the Statue of Freedom.  Now, I think it’s near impossible to tell what the statue is when looking at the Capitol, but you can see a replica of it inside the Visitor’s Center.  (Warning:  the replica is a little ugly.  See pictures below.)

RotundaThe first stop after the video is a tour of the Rotunda – or as my friend Eric refers to it:  the big dome room.  Housed in the Rotunda are eight paintings depicting different time periods of American history, a frieze (which amazingly look like sculptures), and statues and busts of mainly presidents.  Overall, I found the light flowing through delightful and was pleased that my delay in visiting the Capitol allowed me to also view the newly unveiled statue of Ronald Reagan.  The dome is 287 feet tall, weighing 8,909,200 pounds, made of pure steel.

Next stop was the Statuary Hall.  The room used to house the entire House of Representatives – yikes!  It also has the unique quality where you could stand in one spot and clearly hear someone talk on the other side of the room.  Legend has it, Davy Crockett enjoyed this attribute.

Last on the list was the Crypt.  Funny enough, no one is buried there.  George Washington was going to be laid to rest in the Capitol but the executor of his estate followed his wishes that he was to be laid to rest in Mount Vernon, next to Martha.  I found the coolest thing in the crypt was the star that depicts the center of the city.

Now about those reservations:  When I was checking out visiting the Capitol in February, weekend tours seemed readily available.  However, in April when I was looking to commit to a day, the closest Saturday appointment that I could get was the end of May.  The reservation process is rather straightforward (and free!).  Just visit this website and follow the steps.

Leave any comments if you have questions, and I hope you enjoy the pictures!

~ Happy Touring ~
Jessica

Visitors' Center

Visitors' Center

Frieze

Frieze

Statue of Freedom

Statue of Freedom

Statutory Hall

Statutory Hall

Whispering Spot

Whispering Spot

Center of DC

Center of DC

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