Monday, November 21, 2011

Exploring the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

Capitol and Elizabeth

Standing in front of the U.S. Capitol was something I will never forget. This is where many of the most important decisions of country are made. I was excited we discovered that touring the Capitol is free! We made it just in time for the next tour. You can book your own tour at the link below.


Upon approaching the U.S. Capitol, its extreme size becomes apparent. It has 540 rooms that are divided amongst five levels. Each floor is dedicated to a different purpose. First, the ground floor hosts the Congressional office. Going upwards to the second floor in the south wing is the chambers of the House of Representatives and in the north wing is the Senate. The third floor is where Congress goes when in session. The area where we were able to tour for free is known as the Rotunda which is under the dome in the center of the Capitol Building. Continuing below, you can view this level.


Here on the ceiling of the Rotunda is a large fresco painting called The Apotheosis of Washington. The rotunda is the tallest part of the Capitol reaching to heights of 180 feet 3 inches with a diameter 96 feet. The creator of this master piece was the Greek artist Constantino Brumidi. It was in Italy where he served as an artist for several aristocrats as he painted palaces and villas.


The next area to catch my attention was the “Frieze of American History.” As the name implies, it takes visitors through 19 scenes straight from our country’s exciting history. What appears to be carved stone is actually painted. This work was started by Brumidi who painted seven and a half scenes. After his death, Filippo Costaggini completed eight and half scenes followed by Allyn Cox who completed the frieze in 1951.


The rotunda also contains eight large historical paintings that measure 12 by 18 feet. This particular painting is most likely familiar to you. It is known as the Declaration of Independence. It was painted by Trumball who was commissioned in 1817 to orchestrate this famous masterpiece.


Discovering the Portrait Monument of these three famous women, who made women’s suffrage possible, came as a surprise to me. I had seen it in history books, but never face to face. We owe much gratitude to these ladies Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. Thanks to them, I will be able to vote in the next election!


The next part of the tour took us to a room where we were able to stand where some of our most revered presidents stood. To be able to put my feet where they would have sat or stood instilled in me a feeling I can’t express with words. The best I can say is that at that moment I was proud to be an American.


I took a deep breath as we made our way to the Library of Congress. Finally, after desiring to see for many years, I stepped through the passage way.   IMG_3970

Here is a view looking down on the Great Hall Interior of the Library of Congress. The new Library of Congress was opened in 1897. This impressive space was designed after the Paris Opera House. Attention to detail is evident in the Great Hall. We did not step into the portion where the multitude of books are kept, but we did get a taste of the beauty of this structure.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of the U.S. Capitol. Please visit my blog again in the upcoming weeks to see more entries on my adventures in Washington D.C!

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