"New Capitol Visitors Center" Top 5 Page for this destination U.S. Capitol Building Tip by Ewingjr98
U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C.: 34 reviews and 48 photos
Favorite thing: The Capitol Visitors Center just opened in December 2008. This state of the art facility is now the main entrance for all visitors to the Capitol Building. It is located on the "back" side of the capitol, to the east facing the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. In fact, it is accessible from the Library of Congress via an underground walkway beneath 1st Street. The visitors center cost about $621 million to build, just a little more than the $20 million the Capitol Building itself originally cost! This $621 million price tag is also almost 9 times over the original budget. And the visitors center is massive... almost 3/4 of the size of the entire Capitol Building!
From 1st Street walk down the wide curving ramp to the heaviest doors in the history of the world. If they are tough for me to open, I can't imagine a little old lady trying to make them budge. After the security station, your first view is of the open and naturally lit Emancipation Hall downstairs. This central check in and receiving area is dominated by the massive original plaster cast of the Statue of Freedom that stands on the Capitol's dome. Also around the edges of this room, kind of haphazardly placed, you will find numerous statues of famous people from various states. I'm not really sure how they selected the 20 or so statues, they seem to be pretty random (OK, some research shows there are 24 statues, all part of the Capitol's National Statuary Collection.). Just beyond the Emancipation Hall is an exhibition hall with various historic and educational displays about the Capitol. Also here you will find two gift shops, a restaurant, and two theaters for tourist visitors to the Capitol.
The visitors center is open Mon-Sat 0830 to 1630. Tours are free, but I'm sure the lines will be ridiculous in the summer. You can still book staff-led tours through your congressional reps, but I can;t figure out where these meet, and the professional Capitol Visitors Center staff are no help at all to help you figure that out.
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