Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Behind the Scenes Capitol Tour: Part One

One of the best parts of living in this area are all of the historical buildings and artifacts that are housed here.  Of course, there are lots of things that are not accessible to the public.  Unless you're like us and you have a hookup.

One of our good friends works in the Capitol and offered to give us a tour.  I've taken the public tour, but this allowed us to see (almost) everything within the building.  As a history and political geek, this was basically a dream come true.  Needless to say I took a lot of pictures (hence the need for multiple posts).  

We started on the Senate side of the building, which I'll focus on today (I think, sometimes it's hard to remember where we were).  The photo below is the view from the balcony where the president is sworn into office at the inauguration.  In other words, awesome.

We're blurry, but excited.

There's a lot of pictures ahead.  You've been warned.
Art seems to adorn every inch of the original Capitol building, including these beautiful corridors created by Constantino Brumidi.

These frescoes were so vibrant and detailed.

Hi Ben!

I want this chandelier for our new home.

There are so many services throughout the building that are reserved for members, but since they were all gone the day we visited, we took advantage.

Yes, we took the Senators only elevator.  It was just like the other elevators. So disappointing.

Ben again.  He's kind of my favorite.

Beautiful stained glass in the heart of the Capitol

Below is the Senate Reception Room, where for centuries Senators have met with their constituents.  This room is still used as a meeting space with the public today.

The Senate Reception Room also contains the portraits of distinguished Senators, and is known as its 'hall of fame'.

On the other side of these doors is where Senators congregate before they go to vote.  This room is used exclusively by Senators (and was sadly locked to us).

The frosted glass didn't stop me from taking a peek!

If you come to the Capitol and have the chance to watch Senate deliberations, you would come to this hall before being brought to the viewing area.  I haven't had a chance to do this yet, but I hope to do so in the near future.

When the President is invited to the Capitol, he (someday she), has his own special holding room.  Unfortunately, there is no way to peek into this room, so you'll have to settle for a shot of the door.  If you google it, you'll see that the President's Room is one of the most elaborately decorated rooms of the Capitol.

Throughout the Capitol, there are lights and bells that signal the status of votes.  We found this handy card from 1983 taped to a desk the describes what the different lights and sounds mean.  Since we were there on the weekend, we didn't get to see them in action, but I love the history behind this idea.

Next, we'll go over to the House side of the Capitol building.


  1. I am such a nerd for this kind of stuff. Thank you SO much for sharing. I can't wait for the next installment!

  2. Hello, this is so cool!!! I loved working for the EPA, my proudest moment ever was delivering a bill to the Speaker of the House and sneaking around behind the scenes. I miss that so much!

    Have you ever been on a tour of the State Department's Diplomatic Reception Rooms? They're full of gorgeous old antiques and they're very historical - they only do a limited number of tours but it was so worth wiggling into one of the tours!


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