With more American readers than any other, it seems appropriate on Independence Day to write about the iconic travel wonder of the US Capitol Building in Washington DC. The glorious white-washed classical building perches defiantly on Capitol Hill looking down a long verdant mall of national monuments, memorials and museums.
Built over 200 years ago, the building is grandly decorated with Greek columns and a huge cupola. Inside, the cavernous central room, the Rotunda, is bathed in natural light with numerous statues and artworks denoting major points in American history. A huge sculpture runs around the cupola and highlights America’s history starting with discovery by Christopher Columbus, through the Pilgrims, the signing of the constitution, the Civil War and the Wright Brother’s flight and accounts for recent events including the landing on the moon. With impressive planning, space is reserved for future significant events. The ceiling of the giant cupola is painted with an Italian-like mural showing George Washington ascending to heaven supported by various Roman and Greek gods.
Typical of most systems with its roots drawn from the British form of parliament, the Senate runs off on one side of the building while the House of Representatives runs off the other. Free tours run regularly showcasing the building’s highlights. If Congress is sitting, non-Americans can view the action by showing their passport. While the session I saw by mired in a dull and uninspiring debate about events in Nebraska, seeing the operations of the house made the effort worthwhile. A flag flies over the relevant wing if the house is sitting.
The original Supreme Court is included on the tour, though the current ultimate court in the USA is now housed in a separate building not far away. A glorious garden rich with orchids sits at the foot of the Capitol building.
Washington DC is a city rich in travel wonders befitting a capital city including the visually striking US Capitol.