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What is the U.S. Capitol?
The United States Capitol has been the meeting place of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the past two centuries. Construction began on the Capitol in 1793 thanks to President George Washington, and in November of 1800, Congress met in the first completed portion. Major extensions to the North and South ends of the Capitol were completed in the 1850s due to the growth of Congress. Today, it’s a symbol of the American people and their government.
Fun Facts About the U.S. Capitol
- The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is the largest project in the Capitol’s 200-year history, and it’s three-quarters the size of the building itself.
- The U.S. Capitol building has more than 540 rooms and 658 windows.
- The U.S. Capitol has been destroyed by fire, reconstructed, expanded and restored.
- National Statuary Hall, located inside the U.S. Capitol, used to be the chambers for the House of Representatives.
- The Dome is 8,909,200 pounds of cast-iron. It was constructed between 1855 and 1866, and the statue at the top is the Statue of Freedom.
- On the third floor of the U.S. Capitol, visitors can watch proceedings in a designated area.
- The Senate chambers are located in the north wing of the building, and the House of Representatives chambers are located in the south wing.
Hours & Group Tours
The U.S. Capitol is open for free tours Mondays - Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The Capitol is closed on Sundays and the following holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Inauguration Day.
It is recommended that you book reservations in advance. For groups of 15 or less, click here to reserve a tour date ahead of time. For groups of more than 15 people, click here to reserve a tour date ahead of time. Same-day passes are available at the Information Desks located on the lower level of the Visitor Center.
How to Get There
Because the U.S. Capitol is located on the east side of the National Mall, in the heart of the city, it can be hard to find a place to park your car, especially in the spring and summer which are peak travel times for D.C. That’s why we recommend taking all the stress out of your group transportation and booking a charter bus through GOGO Charters. Not only can we transport groups of all sizes, from field trips to family reunions, to this historic destination; but we can also take you around D.C., and help your group take in all the sites while you’re in town.
We have a plethora of minibuses to choose from that range from 18-passenger models to 35-passenger models. You also have the option to choose from various amenities, including reclining leather seats, entertainment systems, WiFi, televisions, and more.
Tips for Visiting the U.S. Capitol
- If you’re looking for a time to visit that isn’t too crowded, consider visiting the U.S. Capitol on a weekday morning, right after it opens at 9:00 a.m.
- Book a tour of the U.S. Capitol in advance through the online reservation system (links above) or through the offices of your Senator or Representative.
- Factor in enough time to get to the Capitol. You will likely find yourself walking several blocks before you arrive at the Visitor Center.
- Your guided tour will last about an hour, but make sure you have extra time to visit the fountains, trees and grounds. If you’re touring the U.S. Capitol with younger children, this may be the highlight of their tour.
- Educate yourself before your tour by reading through a few books or surfing the Web for more information about the Capitol.
- Bags that are larger than 14’’ wide by 13’’ high by 4’’ deep are prohibited, so make sure any bags your group members have are smaller than this.
- After your tour, walk to the West Front and photograph the Reflecting Pool across to the Lincoln Memorial.
Highlights on the U.S. Capitol Tour
On the first floor of the Capitol Building is a large circular area called the Crypt. It contains 40 smooth Doric columns of sandstone, which support the arches holding up the floor of the Rotunda. It was built to offer an entrance to Washington’s Tomb, an empty burial chamber two stories below the Rotunda.
The Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room located on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol. It was built between 1818 - 1824 and it’s the tallest part of the Capitol. It’s 96 feet in diameter and 48 feet tall. The interior dome features the “Apotheosis of Washington” mural painted by Brumidi.
National Statuary Hall
Located in the south wing of the Capitol, the National Statuary Hall was the original House Chamber. This semicircular, high-ceiling room is decorated with Breccia marble columns, quarried from the nearby Potomac River. There are also numerous statues which were donated by each of the fifty states.
Book a Charter Bus to the U.S. Capitol Today
Are you ready to tour one of D.C.’s most historical buildings in style? Call GOGO Charters at (202) 741-9808 to set up your group transportation to the U.S. Capitol. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer all of your questions and help you find the perfect charter bus for your needs.