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    US Capitol in Washington: visit the symbol of Capitol Hill

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    Martí Micolau
    @martímicolau
    SOURCES CONSULTED:

    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    It is the building where the two branches of the United States Congress, specifically the House of Representatives and the Senate, meet. The imposing building built in neoclassical style stands out on the eastern side of the National Mall (Capitol Hill) and, in addition to being one of the few government buildings that can be visited, it offers a splendid overview of the entire surrounding area.

    This building has not only a legislative role but also a symbolic one since every American President has celebrated his Inauguration Day vowing to protect the United States Constitution (previous ceremonies took place on the opposite side).

    Index



    • Where is it and how to get there
    • Visit to the Capitol in Washington
      • Capitol Visitor Center hours and location
      • How to organize a tour
      • What can you see
      • Audio guides and photography
      • Android and Apple smartphone apps
    • Attending the sessions of the Congress
    • Attractions nearby
    • Where to eat
    • Accomodation

    Where is it and how to get there

    It is located in Washington DC and stands on the Hill of Capitol Hill which closes the east side of the National Mall. The address is East Capitol St NE & First St SE.

    There are two metro stops that are closest to the Capitol:

    • Capitol South: served by the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, as the name suggests it will leave you south of the Capitol. From there it will only take you five minutes on foot to reach the Visitor Center. Walking along First St NE you will pass the Library of Congress which will remain on your right.
    • Union Station: reached by the Red line it is located to the north and you will have to walk for about 10 minutes along First St NE, or cross the Lower and Upper Senate Park to Constitution Avenue.

    Visit to the Capitol in Washington

    Visitors can access the Capitol only through the Capitol Visitor Center which is located in the basement of the East Front Plaza at the junction of First Street and East Capitol Street.



    Capitol Visitor Center hours and location

    The visitor center is open from 8:30 am to 16:30 pm from Monday to Saturday. The public holidays are closed for Christmas, January XNUMXst, Thanksgiving Day and every four years during the Inauguration Day of Presidents-elect.

    The entrance to the visitor center is free.

    How to organize a tour

    If you are particularly fascinated by the political history of the United States you can consider taking a tour inside the Capitol.

    It is advisable to book your visit through the official channels. In case you decide to visit it at the last moment from the visitor center you can check if there are any Same-day Tour Passes. In high season the chances of finding a place by deciding on the same day are considerably reduced. Individual visits are not allowed but only group tours. For safety reasons all visitors must remain with their guide for the duration of the visit. After booking it is recommended that you go to the Visitor Center at least 45 minutes before of the fixed time, so as not to arrive late due to the queues due to security checks which, as you can imagine, will be particularly scrupulous. Allow at least 90 minutes to enjoy the visit in all its aspects.

    The tour inside the Capitol it's free.

    What can you see

    The tour starts with a projection about ten minutes entitled "Out of Many, One" which deals with the struggle undertaken by the Americans to establish the first complete representative democracy in the world and will introduce you to the various phases of the actual construction of the building you will visit.


    Once inside the Capitol, the tour will take you to visit the following buildings:

    • The crypt: the Crypt supported by forty columns was completed in 1827 and the most interesting curiosity is that the star in the center of the floor indicates the point from which all the streets of Washington DC start and are numbered
    • The Rotunda: the Rotonda is perhaps the most important part of the Capitol that you will visit. The ceiling is frescoed with a work by the Italian-American artist Costantino Brumidi entitled theapotheosis of George Washington. In this fresco the first American president is transformed into a divinity who has ascended to heaven, hence the name apotheosis (word deriving from the Greek, whose etymology refers precisely to the elevation of a mortal to the divine state). Along the walls there are also eight niches that house paintings, some of which have now entered the American collective imagination, including The Declaration of Independence by painter John Trumbull.
    • The National Statuary Hall: this space inside the Capitol hosted the House of Representatives from 1807 to 1857. Today it serves as an exhibition space. Particularly relevant is the sculpture Il Carro della Storia by the Spanish Carlo Franzoni, placed above the door in the direction of the Rotonda.
    John Trumbull: Declaration of Independence

    Audio guides and photography

    Le audioguide they are available free of charge, subject to the issue of an identity document, but at the moment they do not understand the Spanish language.



    Le Photos they are allowed in most of the places you will visit. In some areas they are explicitly prohibited, such as inside the Exhibition Hall and in the cinema hall. The areas where it is not possible to take photographs will in any case be indicated by special prohibition signs.

    Android and Apple smartphone apps

    For those wishing to deepen their knowledge of the complex, five apps designed to meet this need can be downloaded both on the AppStore and on GooglePlay. In particular we point out the US Capitol Rotunda which will allow you to virtually visit the Rotunda with 360 ° images and obtain information on all the works of art that are placed there.

    Attending the sessions of the Congress

    The visit to the rooms where the House of Representatives and the Senate meet is not included in the tour but the rooms can still be visited. If you are interested you will need a special free pass that can be requested atHouse and Senate Appointment Desks which is located on the top floor of the Visitor Center.

    Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
    • The best areas to sleep
    • What to see in 1 day
    • How to get around the city
    • I National Mall
    • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
    • The Best Time to Visit Washington
    • Where to eat in Washington

    Attractions nearby

    Given the topic of the article in this section we will list the main attractions that have to do with American history and politics, leaving out the other many things to see in Washington.

    • Supreme Court (1 First Street NE): It is the place where the 9 judges of the American Supreme Court work. The palace and the exhibitions that are periodically hosted can be visited for free.
    • Library of Congress (101 Independence Ave SE): with over 150 million documents it is the largest library in the world. Of the three buildings that compose it, the one that deserves to be visited is the building in front of the Capitol, named after Thomas Jefferson. Entry is via the grand staircase which overlooks First Street, SE. Admission is free and you can visit the Great Hall and the scheduled exhibitions on your own or by taking part in the many tours available.
    • Botanical Garden (100 Maryland Ave SW): Open all year including holidays, admission is free
    • National Mall and its museums: the part of the National Mall that from the Washington Monument obelisk ends at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is dotted on both sides by numerous museums. Among the most important we point out the National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History (which among other things houses the famous statue in which George Washington is depicted as Zeus, commissioned to the artist Horatio Greenough for the centenary of the birth of the first American president) and the visitor center in the impressive Smithsonian Castle.

    Where to eat

    On the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center there is a restaurant which offers a service of both breakfast in the morning and lunch until 16 pm.


    However, if you prefer to go elsewhere, head immediately towards Pennsylvania Ave SE, where you will find a remarkable range of restaurants and fast food restaurants that will satisfy practically every taste. In particular, we recommend Good Stuff Eatery, a place also frequented by the Presidents of the United States!

    In case you want to go further east, we recommend that you visit Eastern Market, a characteristic Washington market that is particularly suitable if you want to vary the menu a little, tired of eating sandwiches and hamburgers.

    Accomodation

    If you need a resource that shows you the main differences between the districts of the city and some advice on how to choose the hotels that best suit your needs, you can consult our guide on where to sleep in Washington DC

    If, on the other hand, you are interested in a structure at most 10 minutes walk from the Capitol, here is a selection of the main ones:

    • Kimpton George Hotel
    • Capitol Hill Hotel
    • Joie De Vivre Hotel
    • Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill

    Find all Washington DC hotels

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