The United States Capitol is one of the most historic pieces of architecture in the country. Construction began in 1793 and continued through the early 19th Century. The Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored. It is not just a historically significant building to Americans, but it is also a monument to democracy.

The U.S. Capitol sits on a plateau 88 feet above the level of the Potomac River at the eastern end of the National Mall. The Capitol has been home to both the Senate and House of Representatives for over two centuries. The original design was drawn by Dr. William Thornton and the current dome on the Capitol was designed by Thomas U. Walter. There have been 11 Architects of the Capitol.

The neoclassical building covers 175, 170 square feet, or about four acres, and has a floor area of approximately 16-1/2 acres. The building has 540 rooms and 658 windows, 108 windows are in the dome alone. The height above the base line is 288 feet.

Inside the Capitol is divided by floor levels. The first (ground) level consists of committee rooms and other congressional offices. This level also holds the Old Supreme Court Chamber (1810-1860), Hall of Columns, and the Crypt beneath the Rotunda. The area beneath the Rotunda was named the Crypt for two reasons. One being that a Congressional resolution to honor George Washington in the Capitol bared the plans that the first president and his wife were to have their remains laid in the chamber. However, this never came to happen. Currently, the Crypt is home to 13 statues in honor of the 13 original colonies.

The second level is home to the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is also home to the Rotunda, which is 96 feet in diameter and rises 180 feet. This is enough room to fit the Statue of Liberty minus the base. Inside the Rotunda are 8 oil paintings that depict various scenes of United States history. Four of these paintings were painted by John Trumbull.  National Statuary Hall also resides on the second level of the Capitol. This area used to be the Hall of the House but was burned by the British in 1814. After reconstruction, it was where the debates on slavery, territorial expansion, and the House’s election of President John Quincy Adams in 1825 took place.

The third level of the Capitol allows entrance to viewing galleries for the House of Representatives and the Senate chambers. It also is home to multiple offices and committee rooms. There is also a basement and a fourth level that holds various committee rooms and offices.

If any of this interests you and you will be in the Washington, D.C. area, please contact our office to help you make arrangements for a tour of the U.S. Capitol.