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Sunday, March 10, 2013

The US Capitol Building

Me and my husband with the Capitol bldg. at the background

Every time you are in the DC area, one of the most recognizable historic building you can see is the US Capitol building, which is situated on the opposite end of the National Mall from the Washington Monument. It is considered a prominent landmark that shows a 19th-century neoclassical architecture.
You can also see its view on top of Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. The US Capitol has a total of 540 rooms, - a very huge building!

The US Capitol building is where the House of Representatives and the Senate meet.
Congressional offices are located on the ground floor, while the 2nd floor is where the House of Representatives hold its chambers in the south wing. The Senate is in the north wing. The 3rd floor is where visitors can actually watch the Congress proceedings while they are in session, while the 4th floor and the basement consist of additional offices and some machine rooms.

At the center of the building is where the dome is and below it  is the Rotunda, a circle-shaped area where you can see a gallery of paintings and sculpture of various American historical figures and events.
Don't miss looking up beneath the top of the dome once you're inside, and you will see the very beautiful masterpiece of painting called "The Apostheosis of Washington", and the famous "Frieze of United States History", - done by Constantino Brumidi in the year 1865.

Also try to notice the 8 large paintings within the Rotunda. Four paintings are on the east side while the other four are located on the west side.

Guided tours inside the building are free, but require tickets that are available on a first come, first served basis. I and my husband were both lucky to join the tour way back in 2006.
Tours are available from Monday-Saturday at 8:45am-3:30pm.

If you are scheduled for a tour, there is now a Capitol Visitor Center which was recently opened in 2008 where you can see galleries and can watch live streaming videos from the House and Senate. There is also a 13-minute film showing that tells about the history of the Congress and the Capitol. The film is being shown in the orientation theaters.

At the former Crypt, the original tomb prepared for George Washington

Also, take some time to visit the Crypt, just below Rotunda. This was actually build to support the Rotunda as well as purposely done to give entrance to Washington's tomb. It is a large round-shaped room built with 40 columns. But since Washington's last will that he be buried at Mt. Vernon, the area became open to visitors and now currently a museum.

There are a lot more things to discover about the US Capitol. Be sure you get a tour inside the building when you get the's worth it!