Capitol Building

Washington Travel Blog

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We had 2:00 tickets for the Capitol building.  Security measures have increased since the last time we visited (some point in the 90's).  We only visited a few chambers.  The tour began in the Rotunda.  I remembered the high dome but had forgotten the murals just beneath it that depict American history over several centuries.  We continued through a hallway into Statuary Hall where each state displays statues of two famous people from that state (although not all states have contributed two and additionally not all statues are in the hall).  Besides looking at the statues and hunting for those from your state (King Kamehameha I from Hawaii is most impressive), another fun part of the Hall is checking the floor for plaques that show where desks of former statesmen where located when the Hall served as the meeting forum for the House of Representatives in the 1800's.

Rotunda dome
  One more neat trick: the acoustics of the Hall allow a person standing in one specific spot to overhear a whispered conversation on the other side of the room.  We also visited what I seem to remember as a possible Supreme Court meeting area.  It was shadowy and somber.  The tour officially ended in the crypt (no one is buried here, it just houses exhibits on the history, design, and construction of the Capitol).  We were lucky enough for the Senate to be in session that day and our guide had free tickets for everyone.  Most business had been conducted by the time we got through the line (and security; when they say nothing electronic, they mean it), but I did get to see the Majority and Minority leaders on the floor.

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After waiting outside for an hour in the cold to receive our free tickets for a tour of the Capitol building, we scooted over to the Botanical Gardens which are indoors and therefore warm (my toes really appreciated this fact).  We spent about an hour here, viewing the plants (broken into different rooms based upon type/climate such as endangered plants, orchids, desert, primeval, etc.) and also the exhibits (one allows visitors to smell a variety of spices, another shows photos from Lousiana).
Kamehameha I
I tend to like art (as long as it's not just shapes, I get tired of those quickly), but portraits are not my favorite style.  However, I truly enjoyed my visit to the National Portrait Gallery.  Not every picture is a portrait, so the variation helped hold my interest.  It is fairly easy to navigate, and I never felt too crowded.  The main hallways are lined with artworks as well as the side rooms.  In addition to painted works, sculptures and photography add to the collection.  On this visit we spent the largest portion of our time perusing the exhibit on the American presidents.  Formal portraits represent our former leaders along with memorabilia ranging from news photos to political cartoons to even some video.  Another exhibit that I enjoyed was located on the lower level.  It was simply a montage of photos taken around the US and submitted by everyday people, not famous artists.
Rotunda dome
Rotunda dome
Kamehameha I
Kamehameha I
beautiful orchids
beautiful orchids
Statuary Hall
Statuary Hall
Rotunda mural
Rotunda mural
George Washington
George Washington
Washington
photo by: b93sp