The United States Capitol is one of the most powerful places in the country. Within its chambers, laws are written, debated and passed. The magnificent 18th-century neoclassical-style building sits atop Capitol Hill and is home to the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Take a free daily guided tour of this important Washington landmark. Tours start in the Visitor Center, a vast exhibition space on three levels. Watch the 13-minute film about the Capitol’s history and the role Congress plays in the life of Americans. The original plaster model for the bronze statue of Freedom that sits on top of the Capitol’s dome is on display. Also note the gavel used by President George Washington during the ceremony to lay the building’s cornerstone.
The Rotunda connects the House of Representatives to the Senate. The large, domed circular room is 96 feet (29 meters) in diameter and rises to a height of about 180 feet (55 meters). Marvel at its size and the sculptures and paintings within.
Study the sculptures in the National Statuary Hall, which is shaped like an ancient amphitheater. This chamber contains statues of prominent Americans, including author and activist Helen Keller and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
Watch congressional proceedings from the Senate and House galleries when either legislative body is in session. Obtain a gallery pass as this is not part of the tour. U.S. residents should contact the office of their senator or congressional representative. International visitors should inquire at the House and Senate Appointment Desks in the Visitor Center.
Book a tour in advance. For more details, visit the official website of the United States Capitol. A limited number of same-day tour passes may be available at the public walk-up line. The Visitor Center is open daily except Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Inauguration Day. You do not need a ticket to explore its exhibits.
The United States Capitol is at the eastern end of the National Mall. Find three metro stations nearby or paid street parking along the mall or at parking facilities at Union Street station.