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U.S. Capitol Featured

East capitol St NE & First St, DC 20004 East capitol St NE & First St, DC 20004 sunipix.com

Come Tour The Highly Recognizable and Prestigious U.S. Capitol

What do you think is the most symbolic building in the United States – White House, the U.S. Supreme Court building or the U.S. Capitol? Of all three, the most architecturally-remarkable building – the one many people recognize – is the U.S. Capitol.

For the last 200 years, the U.S. Capitol has been home for both the Senate and House of Representatives. The landmark was built in 1793 and has undergone a number of construction phases. Today, it’s a monument for, not just the government, but the American people too.

A Look At The U.S. Capitol Building

When people travel to Washington, D.C., they tend to visit the U.S. Capitol building, which is located at the other end of the National Mall. With its 19th century neoclassical architecture, it’s got 540 rooms on five levels:

    • On the ground floor are the congressional offices.
    • On the second floor, the Senate chambers are located in the north wing with the House of Representatives chambers being located in the south wing. 
    • On the third floor, visitors can watch Congress in action.
    • On the fourth floor and basement, there are more offices and machinery rooms.

US Capitol BuildingIn the center of this remarkable landmark is the Rotunda, which houses a number of sculptures and paintings of American historical figures and events.

How To Visit The U.S. Capitol: Booking Your Tour

If you’re looking to tour this magnificent building, you’ll be glad to know that tours are free and take place throughout the year, six days a week beginning around 9 a.m. and lasting until about 3:30 p.m. No tours are given on Sundays.

General tours are given by Capitol Guide Service, which will take up to 50 folks at one time on an hour tour. Visitors can get their tour tickets online from visitthecapitol.gov. Tours can be set up by calling 202-226-8000. They may also be set up through a senator’s or representative’s office.

Keep in mind that there is a limited amount of same-day passes available at tour kiosks on the West and East Fronts of the building and at the Visitor Center’s Information Desks. If you plan on visiting the Capitol during the spring and summer sessions, be sure to order tickets two weeks before your arrival by calling 202-225-6827.

How To Watch Congress In Session

People who want to watch Congress in action can do so by visiting the House and Senate Galleries, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays only. Visitors will need a pass, which can be attained from their Senators or Representatives’ offices. To learn where your representative or senator’s office is located, check out senate.gov or house.gov. From there, you’ll need to follow the links to find your state’s senators’ or representatives’ information. You can also get the information by calling the Capitol operator at 202-225-3121.

Foreign visitors can attain their Gallery passes from the House and Senate Appointment Desks, located on the upper level of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Visitors who want to watch both the Senate and House of Representatives in action will need a separate pass for both.

Congress in SessionHow To Know Congress Is In Session

When the Senate and/or House are in session, flags will fly over their wings in the Capitol. Or, you can check the “Today In Congress” column in the online edition of the Washington Post to get the times of the sessions and committee hearings. The column will also inform the public which sessions are open to them. You can also get the information through the aoc.gov website.

Capitol Visitor Center Designed To Better The Visitor Experience

This building opened its doors in December 2008 and works to boost the experience visitors have at the U.S. Capitol. Visitors, while they wait for tours, can check out the galleries that showcase artifacts from the National Archives and Library of Congress. You can also check out the 10-foot Capitol Dome model and watch live feeds of the Senate and House. Tours will start with a 13-minute film that explores the Capitol and Congress’ history, which is shown in the orientation theaters.

Yearly Events That Take Place On The West Lawn

The summer months are very busy for the U.S. Capitol in terms of events. Many popular concerts are held here – Labor Day Concert, Capitol Fourth and Memorial Day Concert. When it’s the holiday season, Congress invites the public to take part in the lighting of its Christmas tree.


The Capitol Visitor Center opens Mon-Sat: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Tours of the Capitol are conducted Mon-Sat: 8:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.
Address/Map:    East capitol St NE & First St, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 226-8000
Website: United States Capitol
Admission: Free but requires ticket: Book your ticket online