Monday, November 11, 2013

A Capitol Trip

Take the picture, quick!  We're freezing!
 Last week we took a fun trip to visit the Capitol building in Washington, DC!

It was a chilly hike from where we parked, up Capitol Hill past the actual building to the below ground visitor's center behind the building.

The other times I had been there, they had let us take the tour a little earlier than our passes stated, but this time they were very busy and we had to wait.
Zorg putting together the key
 Waiting wasn't so bad once we found a pair of wonderful docents who explained how the Capitol was built.

Much of the labor was done by slaves, and we got to see replicas of the shoes and clothes provided, as well as many of the tools.  We were all very interested in this "key", a wedge shaped device, used for lifting stones, and apparently in use in Roman times.

Finally, it was time for the tour! 

I have always loved the beautiful dome on the Capitol.  This is what it looks like on the underside.

The painting in the center is The Apotheosis of George Washington. It shows our founding father being lifted into heaven surrounded by women representing the states and various virtues.

That's Blessed Junipero Serra in the middle!
 Another favorite is the Statuary Hall.  This was the original chamber of the House of Representatives... until they discovered that an accident of architecture  made it possible to hear clearly everything whispered on the other side of the room,but nothing spoken directly from the podium.  Oops!

Each state gets to send two statues representing notable people from their state.  The statues are all over the Capitol building, but many are here in this hall.  It's fun to see the different people honored: poets, inventors, soldiers, statesmen, and social workers.

 And this is the original Senate chamber.  Both the Senate and the House have built larger more acoustically favorable chambers in other parts of the building.

My favorite part of the tour came at the end, when Zorg asked our guide about an ornate crystal chandelier.  Her answer surprised us: "It's a beautiful chandelier, made of Czechoslovakian crystal, but it has no historical value.  We got it at a yard sale in 1969."

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