Being completely honest, I am not a big history buff, especially when it comes to government and politics. However, on my recent trip to Austin, Texas, I found myself feeling extra patriotic, so I decided to visit the state's Capital building. I am glad I did. There are some architectural design elements of this massive structure that are pretty amazing.
Dating back to 1888, the Texas Capital building is the oldest and largest of its kind in the United States. It's a 19th century Italian Renaissance revival style constructed of "Sunset Red" granite and limestone and is a symbol of the legendary spirit of the Lone Star State. Proudly protecting the building and grounds from atop the dome is the Texas Goddess of Liberty. This Goddess is 16 feet tall and weighs 2000 lbs. She is made of aluminum and stands holding a sword and a gold star which symbolize justice and Texas pride.
As I entered the building, my gaze was drawn immediately to the gorgeous, hand carved casings, etched glass door panes and columns that adorn each of the foyer's doors. I knew then that the building was going to be a real treat for me.
You can tell as you make your way down the hallway that something amazing awaits at the end. As you exit the hall, you find yourself in awe at the big, beautiful dome. The Rotunda is a large circular room with side staircases that make their way up each floor of the special room. On every level, the walls are lined with portraits of past Texas governors and presidents. The terrazzo mosaic floors trace the state's history with a large inlay of the Great Seal of Texas surrounded by representations of the state's flags as they evolved through time.
Have a secret? Don't say it out loud in the rotunda. It is known as a "whispering gallery" which can carry even the faintest of sounds all the way across to the other side of the room.
If you want a different view, climb 4 stories up to the top floor. You can really take it all in up at this level, if you're not afraid of heights. It can be quite daunting looking down from the top! If you make it to the top, be sure to take in the floor's artwork and the amazing dome above you. I was shocked to find out that the center star in the dome is 218 feet off the ground floor and actually measures 8 feet across. It looks so small!
My exploring antenna was on alert when I saw a spiral staircase that led to the top of the dome! I really wanted to continue on up, BUT unfortunately, it's not open to the public.
Don't forget to explore the rooms on each of the floors open for display. There are design treasures everywhere you turn!
For those ghost lovers out there, there is much discussion about run-ins from time to time with some special capital guests, hauntings of former famous politicians and visits from the rotunda's "Lady in Red." So, you will want to read up about these before heading out so you know who to keep an eye out for!
After touring the building, plan to take some time to stroll the capital grounds. There are 22 acres to explore with 17 monuments and historical buildings rich with the state's history. A perfect place for a picnic lunch or a nap!
1100 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Friday - 8:30 to 4:30
Saturday - 9:30 to 3:30
Sunday - Noon to 3:30
Guided tours start every 15 minutes in the South foyer and last about 40 minutes.
For other Austin sites, be sure to read Hamilton Pool Preserve: Austin's Geological Wonder and HOPE is Alive and Well in Austin!
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