Visit the oldest English-speaking Legislature in the U.S. and get a taste of Virginia’s unique history at the State’s government building.
A visit to the Virginia State Capitol offers an insight into the history of the State, the Civil War and Thomas Jefferson.
The Capitol, in downtown Richmond, has housed Virginia’s General Assembly since 1788. The General Assembly is America’s oldest English-speaking legislative body. It is still home to the House and Senate chambers, but is also considered a historic site and has a museum for visitors to learn about the history of the building and the state.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, designed the building in the late 1700s. The design became a prototype for many courthouses and government buildings across the country.
The visitor’s entrance is underground near 10th and Bank Streets. As you enter, stop to admire the exterior of the building, which is impressively perched on top of the hill. The newly renovated underground section features a gift shop and café. The museum provides the history of the building along with a short history of the state.
Visit the Old House and Senate chambers, the Rotunda and one of the 1906 legislative chambers (that are still in use) when the General Assembly is not in session. Leave about an hour if you plan to explore on your own. Don’t miss a marble statue of George Washington on the top floor, and a series of portraits of Virginia’s governors spread throughout the building. The grand interior is decorated with marble, glass and ornate ironwork.
The Capitol is open to visitors every day, and while you can wander around yourself, there are also free guided tours which can give a deeper perspective to the history of the area.
Spend some time exploring the surrounding area. Capitol Square has landscaped gardens and monuments dedicated to many prominent locals.
Walk or take a bus from here to many of the city’s main attractions.