US Capitol: The Parliament

Here it comes, my trip to the Office of the Lawmakers of ‘Merica

It sits atop The Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall (marked by
Washington Monument at the other end). Capitol in DC was never the first choice
to be made the meeting place for the US Federal Gov.

Legislation, nevertheless, Philadelphia and New York paved way for it, after hosting the Congress and acting as temporary capitals. Original design by amateur French architect
William Thorton was amended later on, and got its name ‘Capitol’ by Thomas
Jefferson.

Open for visitors, it is so well guarded & yet apart from a couple of cops on cycles, you cannot see anyone else keeping an eye on you. It was only when I crossed over the fountain (the permissible limit for visitors), and heard the announcement “the gentleman in the blue shirt, we request you to please step back, we repeat, request you to step back”, and realized where I was. No, I wasn’t scared to death but when I looked up to the Rotunda (the Dome of the building), I noticed several of them, heavily armed & who knows, pointing a barrel towards me. After requesting a fellow tourist to click my photo, I headed towards the entrance where the security-clearance gates are, similar to the ones seen at International Airport Departures.

The visitor center is beautifully designed with two welcome desks & a huge cast of ‘Statue of Freedom’ in the middle. A friendly staff welcomed me by handing over an audio device & a map followed by pasting a sticker on my left arm that read ‘US Capitol, April 13, 2013 and a Bar Code’. These are essentially guided tours, free of charge and very educational. I got a chance to see the hallway, main gallery, the Rotunda and the magnificent pieces of art on display. The roof painted with ‘The Apotheosis of Washington’ took my breath away and the statues of the great men, who helped built America, were no less than inspiring. Our guide occasionally used his laser torch to point at the paintings & figurines inside the House, to explain the architecture and the history behind. Marvelous! Unparalleled! I was glad that photography was allowed inside, the only restriction being the access to the Senate Halls, for obvious reasons. It was news to me that the Rotunda was partially burnt down in 1814 by the British only to be rebuilt later in 1819.

Before I could scratch this item from my to-do list, I added the next one – the White House.

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