A Visit to the U.S. Capitol

I had been anticipating to visit the U.S. Capitol this past summer. It’s possible to get free guided tours if you book online in advance. Here is the link to visitthecapitol.gov  

Washington BigBus tour guide

Washington BigBus tour guide

If I had the chance to go today, I know how to get there quickly but as we visited during one of our first days in Washington, D.C. we wanted to use our “Big Bus” tour pass for that day. It took us a long time to get to our destination and then run up the Hill to find the entrance to the Visitor Centre. My husband, Henry has a replacement hip in is his best leg, and the other is not as good, so he was suffering. Next time it would be six stops with the grey Metro Line from McPherson station to the Capitol South station should we stay at the same hotel as last time.

We were not the only visitors as many large groups of tourists walked around the same paths and buildings equipped with headsets to be able to hear the guide. Pictures were difficult to take because of the many other people everywhere. We also had to move at the pace of our guide and not make any detours on our own. I realise that I didn’t catch many details about the art in the buildings when I now read the different brochures, I bought in the souvenir shop.

I am glad we got this experience as the Congress with the Senate, and The House of Representatives is essential to everything American. I should have seen the libraries too though.

One of the other days in Washington, D.C. we walked around the area in bright sunshine and got pictures of the famous other buildings like the Supreme Court and the Congressional libraries.

The Old Hall of the House is now the National Statuary Hall.

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Each state displays their two most notable citizens. They also decorate the Rotunda, the Visitor Centre, and the corridors. To see more, here is a link to Architect of the Capitol.

British troops destroyed the House of Representatives first hall and burned the Capitol in 1814. The Old Hall was rebuilt in its present form between 1815 and 1819.

In 1850 the Capitol was decided to be enlarged as many new states were added and The House moved in their chamber in 1857, and the Senate moved to their hall in 1859.

In the Visitor Center, a hall is called the Emancipation Hall which commemorates the slave labour in the construction of the United States Capitol from the start in 1793 until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The black slaves were involved in all kind of construction work even the bronze Statue of Freedom on the Capitol dome.

The Rotunda is the heart and centre of the Capitol. Here is a link to the many details about architecture and the pieces of art.

I was glad to find a cafeteria downstairs in the Visitor Center. I realise that a plaster model of the Statue of Freedom is there, but I have forgotten if we saw that on our tour.

A meal there helped us to continue to see the National Portrait Gallery where paintings of all the American Presidents hang among many other American portraits.  I will return to that in a future blog post though next week I will take you to Boston for a short visit.


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