The US Capitol is an iconic and massive building that serves as the seat of America's legislative branch of government. Crafted in the American neoclassical architectural style, this building dominates the landscape, and you can see it for yourself with a tour that takes you inside as well. In fact, you'll find a comprehensive visitor centre here that was completed in 2008 and that's designed to hold visitors waiting for a tour of the Capitol.

Don't hesitate to bring the whole family along on your trip to the US Capitol, as its historic halls have something to offer all ages. The history on display here is something every American should be familiar with, but you can also see special exhibits held here as well. A typical tour lasts about 90 minutes, though you're welcome to take as long as you like.

US Capitol in Washington DC - one of the highlights of 10 Best Things to Do in Washington DC and 10 Best Free Things to Do in Washington DC (Read all about Washington here)

What are the highlights of the US Capitol in Washington, DC?

When you embark on a tour of the US Capitol, you'll see quite a few iconic sights and items that you won't find anywhere else. The Capitol Rotunda evokes an immense sense of scale when you're underneath the dome. A guide will show how the unique acoustics work, demonstrating how speakers that are farther away sound closer than speakers right next to you.

Several paintings are hung throughout the US Capitol that you can see on your tour, and they all depict significant events in history, such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Embarkation of the Pilgrims. Through the corridors of the building, you'll find an array of statues representing each state in the union. You can even view congress in session under certain circumstances, but you'll have to get passes from your representative in advance.

A brief history of the US Capitol in Washington, DC

Much like other buildings and monuments in Washington, DC, the US Capitol dates back centuries to the early years of the United States as a country. Construction of this building began in 1793, though congress wouldn't convene here until 1800—a full 11 years before the first version of this building was fully completed. Unfortunately, just 3 years later, British troops burned a fair portion of the building, and the resulting extensive renovations lasted until 1819.

The US Capitol grew and expanded over the years, but one of the most essential add-ons was completed in 2008. The Capitol Visitor Centre, or CVC, is a massive underground addition to the building that serves as a gathering point and exhibition space. Congress also makes use of the extra rooms there now and then.

What else is good to know about the US Capitol in Washington, DC?

When you visit the US Capitol, there are a few things to keep in mind. Several items are prohibited when visiting, as you might expect, so be sure to avoid bringing large bags, food, drinks, any kind of sprays, and anything sharper than a pen or pencil. If you're disabled, you can be sure that every aspect of the building open to the public is completely accessible.

Getting to the US Capitol is fairly easy no matter where you are in DC, but you may not want to drive yourself since parking is very limited. Instead, you can ride a bicycle and make use of the bike racks near the entrance, or you can take public transport. You'll find 3 subway stops, including Union Station, Capitol South, and Federal Centre SW, within walking distance of the Capitol.

US Capitol in Washington DC

Location: First St SE, Washington, DC 20004, USA

Open: Monday–Saturday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

Phone: +1 202-226-8000