Taking a Tour of the Capitol Dome

For a while I used to say that the Dome was going through its turbulent teenage years because it was under renovation and the scaffolding reminded me of a pubescent wearing braces. It’s been over a year since the Dome has returned to all of its glory and I can’t wait to share with you my tour.

The top of the dome is the Statue of Freedom and the area below it is the Tholos. We started from the ground floor and went up to the Tholos. Learned a lot on this tour!

The Dome was closed for 2 years and I was fortunate to be invited onto a tour which I gladly accepted! You need a “sponsor”, a member of Congress to organize group. So after meeting at the appointed time at the Capitol crypt, I signed the waiver stating that I understood the strenuous activity that I was about to embark and we were off! I didn’t wear my usual heels because I knew that I was headed up 300+ steps to reach the top and eventually down.

Check out some of the crazy tight winding stairs we climbed single file to get to the top. There were warnings to duck because there were low ceilings.
Shots of the interior and outer layers of the dome. What you see from the outside is to your right and the interior dome is your left.
Some of these windows date way way back. They kept one window for every time they did a renovation.
You will see the pretty side of the dome in the next picture. Here’s a closeup of what people almost never see.
The other side of the previous picture.

The artist, Constantino Brumidi painted the mural in 1865.
The Apotheosis of Washington.
President George Washington ascending to becoming a god.
Looking towards East Capitol Street with the Supreme Court to the left and the Library of Congress to the right.
At this vantage point, I’m standing at the base of the Tholos, which is comprised of 12 columns encircling a lantern that is lit when one or both chambers (U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate) is in session. The Tholos sits on top of the Capitol dome & holds the Statue of Freedom. Straight ahead is the National Mall with the Washington monument and beyond, the Lincoln Memorial in view.

The tour takes you to the highest point which is the Tholos. From this vantage point, you can  see as far as 15 miles. So when I look at the Dome now, I can envision where I walked around the outer balcony of the tholos!

I grew up in the DC area and being that this was the 1st time I was touring the Dome, it was truly magnificent. Amazing to learn the history as well as see up close the masterful artistry & structural engineering.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

— MXM

 

 

 

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