U.S. Capitol Building Tour

     (Washington, D.C.) I recently visted the U.S. Capitol Building and was lucky enough to receive an escorted tour from a friend who works in the building.  Of course, the Capitol Building is where House and Senate members meet to debate and vote on the laws of our nation, so it was a little inspiring to be able to spend a little time there during my visit to Washington, D.C. The public is provided a chance to tour the Capitol Building through the new Capital Visitors Center (CVC) which was a massive project dug out below the East Capitol grounds.  Tours are provided there with an advanced reservation, and from what I saw of these public tours, they provide a chance to see a great deal of the Capitol Building and the numerous historic rooms and picturesque art it has to offer.  However, the additional areas I was able to tour with my guide and details provided by some of the more friendly, informative guards really made my tour  memorable.
     One of the biggest highlights of the tour was visiting the Senate chambers. It was pretty cool being in the room where our laws are debated and passed.  Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take my camera with me. This is not part of the normal tour, but I was told you can arrange a visit by contacting your Senator's office. However, timing is important because the chamber has to be in session or there some other guidelines for access when it is not in session.  Same applies to the House chambers.

     Another highlight was seeing the Brumidi Corridors (pictured below).  The Italian, Constantino Brumidi, designed and directed their execution during the 1800s. As you can see from my photo, the walls and ceilings are very colorful and full of detail. One of the guards told me, Brumidi spent a lot of time after arriving to America sketching small animals which are featured throughout the corridors.  There is a special 30 minute tour to visit the Brumidi Corridors once per day.  Passes can be obtained at the CVC with no reservation.  For more information on the Brumidi Corridors click here.

On the Subway from the Capitol Building to the Senate Building with
my wife and tour guide, CNN Reporter, Lisa Desjardins
     Another Brumidi work, the Frieze of American History, was interesting as well. Its located 58 feet above the floor of the Rotunda.  The 19 scenes which depict important moments in American history were actually the work of two other artists who began work after Brumidi's death.  One of the guards helped point out where you can see the difference in style and formatting between the artists. Also, he pointed out where Brumidi and another artist, Allyn Cox, managed to add self-portraits of themselves into the frieze.  However, Brumidi's self-portrait was much more cleverly added.  See if you can spot them on your visit.  The guard also explained the scenes were painted into wet plaster which gives the frieze its three-dimensional look. Click here for more information on the Frieze of American History.

     Other highlights included, seeing where the Senator's have their unofficial offices including where the late Senator Ted Kennedy would get-away, visiting the Senate Radio and Television Gallery, seeing some of the special offices located in the Capitol such as the office of the Speaker of the House and last but not least, the Subway under the Capitol that makes a short run from the Capitol to the Senate building.

     I would definitely recommend everyone take a tour of the Capitol building and see all the rich history and art there; too numerous to cover here.  If you're interested in taking a tour of Capitol, click here for more information or contact your local representative.

Brumidi Corridors and the Office of the Speaker of the House

Didn't Know Picture Taking Wasn't Allowed.  Ooops!

Rotunda Canopy Fresco, The Apotheosis of Washington
Me taking questions in the Senate Radio & Television Press Gallery
Statuary Hall
Statuary Hall

The Rotunda