The United States Capitol Building is a must-see for anyone visiting Washington, D. C. But is the tour of the Capitol worth your time? This article will discuss the tour, how to book it, what you'll see, and whether it's worth it. The Capitol tour is free, so the question is if it's really worth your time when you visit Washington, D.
C., given the amount of other things to do. The tour does not include the Senate and House of Representatives galleries, but most agree that the site is worth visiting. There are several ways to book your tour of the United States Capitol in advance. You can go to the offices of your state representative or senators, or book a spot yourself online. We highly recommend going to the office of your senators or representatives, because when a staff member contacts you, you can also get gallery passes to the Senate or House of Representatives, if they are in session.
The other big advantage of going to a representative or senator is that one of their interns directs the tour and, in general, these visits are more intimate. Before starting the tour, be sure to visit the Visitor Center exhibition hall. There are several fascinating exhibits here, as well as some great statues. In fact, we found that this area is one of the highlights of the United States Capitol building. The tour itself begins with a short video. The video is fine, it's basically a quick look at the establishment of a representative democracy in the United States and what that government means to its people.
It's a well-done video, but I can't say it's particularly memorable. We went with a friend who works for the White House; he had been on the tour before and it seems that the guides vary in quality. Ours was fine, although it seemed that the guide had memorized a script and was reciting it from memory. The guide wasn't necessarily monotonous or anything like that, but there wasn't any real personal prompting, anecdotes, or anything else. Without a doubt, the highlight of the tour was standing under the roundabout. The website of the Architect of the United States Capitol has an interesting story about this area.
The other main area you're going to is the National Statuary Hall. Originally, this was a place meant to display two statues of prominent citizens from each state. Each state was allowed this assignment of two statues, regardless of size or history. There are not 100 statues in this room; many of them have been placed in other areas of the United States Capitol since 100 statues would have sufficed for a room full of people. The statues seemed to be the recurring theme of the tour and a lot of time was spent discussing and looking at them. Even so, it was great to see and fun to take a look at the statues that were on display. This is also where John Quincy Adams' “place of whispers” is located.
Your guide is likely to tell you about this popular urban legend. These areas were interesting from the perspective that they highlighted the growth of the United States and part of the history of our government. Beyond that, there was nothing substantial about this part of the tour nor were these areas as elegant or charming. This part of the tour was a kind of attempt to “come in in a minute, take a look, hear some superficial facts, move on”.
This experience is more for adults or students who may be interested in history or government; young children are likely to get bored with it. Keep in mind that cameras and other devices are allowed in the U. S. Capitol building but not in any of its galleries; you can check them inside.
We did this tour in addition to a public tour of the White House and a private tour of its West Wing and we much prefer tours of the White House. The tour of the Capitol seemed mediocre and superficial with too much emphasis on its various statues and not on much else. The experience was not favored by our tour guide who was not very attractive nor by their terrible headphones they provided us. The Statuary Hall was originally meant to be Congress' chamber before it became too small for its building so new houses for both chambers were built.
The roundabout is now in its third dome; its first two were much smaller and made out of wood - one burned by British forces in 1814 and another by a fire caused by a whale oil lamp - which President Lincoln defended would become “the most magnificent structure ever erected by human hands”.
ConclusionThe U. Capitol Building is an important part of American history and culture and taking its tour can be an interesting experience for those interested in learning more about our government and its history. However, if you're looking for something more engaging or entertaining then there are better options available.