When strollling through Austin, it's virtually impossible to miss the tall, imposing dome of the Capitol Building.
Atop the dome rests a 16 foot tall Goddess of Liberty with a five pointed star in her hand (pic #4). This Renaissance Revival-style building was completed in 1888 and features a red granite exterior.
Our footsteps echoed throughout the cavernous hallways as we toured the edifice. We noticed fine detailed carvings circling doorways, etched glass door panels and colorful marble floors, all adding a touch of elegance to our state capitol.
An almost life-size portrait of Davy Crockett hangs in the rotunda, while sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin by Elizabeth Ney grace the entry.
Each floor accessed by stairs or elevator rose towards the elaborate domed ceiling, which was highlighted by the star of Texas. Each level opened to view the dome above and Governor's gallery below, where portraits of Presidents of the Republic of Texas or Governors of the state were represented.
A docent guided us to the state Senate (pic #2) and House of Representatives (pic #3) Chambers, noted by the gilded letters marking their chamber doors. Portraits of famous Texans, such as, LBJ and earlier leaders peer down from the walls of these historic rooms.
We were impressed to learn that the original wood desks from the 1800's once used by the first State Senators are still being utilized with a few modifications: telephones, microphones and electronic voting buttons.
A visitors center offered maps and information. Guided tours can be scheduled on Mon.-Fri. 8:30 am-4:30 pm; Sat. 9:30 am-3:30 pm and Sun. noon-3:30 pm.except during legislative sessions and other events. There is no charge for admission.
The Capitol gift shop provided several souvenirs to take home for our family and was stocked with all sorts of interesting items.
The Capitol Building sits on nearly twenty-two acres of grounds encircled by a sturdy iron fence. Within the fenced area sits many monuments commemorating historic events. (Please enlarge photo to see entire sculpture)
As the expansive lawn and walkway spreads out before the Capitol, four of its oldest monuments can be seen:
(pic #1) The Heroes of the Alamo by artist, J.S. Clark
(pic #2) Volunteer Firemen by artist Pompeo Coppini
(pic #3) Confederate Soldiers by FrankTeich
(pic #4) Terry's Texas Rangers by Pompeo Coppini and Frank Teich
A pretty fountain surrounded by flowers sits mid-way along the Great Walk, which leads to the main street, Congress Avenue. Benches and period lighting were reproduced to add an authentic flavor for the enjoyment of the public.
Cannons from 1864-1865 punctuate the park-like setting, while immense trees, whose heavy branches kiss the ground, provide shade here and there, a respite from the heat.
The Texas Capitol building has been designated a National Historic Landmark The Texas Capitol stands the tallest in gross square footage of all state capitols. Only the National Capitol in Washington, D.C is larger.. However, the Texas Capitol stands higher than the United States National Capitol by about 15 feet.
Built in 1883, at that time, it was said to be the 7th largest building in the world! This is obviously the main attraction of the city.
Austin is the capital of the Texas state and this building is the heart of the political institutions.
You can walk around the nice park but make sure you also have a look inside. This is free and definitely worth it. The first thing you will see is the main hall, the dome from inside is really impressive. This building is indeed similar to the Washington capitol but it is even taller (311feet)!!
You will also be able to walk through the room where the Senate Chamber and the House of Representatives hold their meetings.
My first idea, when visiting the Capitol, was to visit the Visitors Center first as it was closest to the parking lot, but on Sundays it doesn't open until later. So, I discovered the Capitol Building first. Honestly, it doesn't really matter...
The Capitol Visitors Center is more of a Texas History museum than anything else. They have different movies of Texas when it was becoming a (country first!) state. They have small rooms and areas but I didn't explore all of them because I'm pretty claustrophobic.
They have lots of fun things for kids, though. Plenty of games and historical problem solving games. Check out the pictures and travelogue for details.
The building is in the restored 1856-57 General Land Office building. The three-story castle-like structure reflects the mid-19th century mock-medieval revival architectural style and is the oldest state office building in Texas.
They also have a really cool traveler center where you can pick up hundreds of Texas travel brochures.
Admission is free, and self-guided tour information and pamphlets are also available. Self-guided tour literature and pamphlets are also available in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian, Korean and Spanish.
Capitol Visitors Center :
Monday - Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday Noon - 5:00 pm
Capitol Visitors Center Giftshop:
Monday-Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am- 5:00 pm
Sunday Noon - 5:00 pm
Whenever I visit a new state I like stopping by the state capitol because it's always a good starting point to learn more about the history and culture of the place - and because tours are free! Completed in 1888, the state capitol in Austin is the largest of all US state capitols (everything's bigger in Texas, right?) and, of course, the Texas Lone Star is on full display in and around the building!
In a state where just about everything is BIG, the Texas Statehouse is huge - larger in gross square footage than any other state capitol in America. In height it exceeds the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C. by 15 feet.
Rising majestically from one of the highest points in Austin, the Texas Capitol is an extraordinary example of late 19th century public architecture and is widely recognized as one of the nation's most distinguished state capitols. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its "significant contribution to American history."
The Capitol building, in the Renissance Revival style, was completed in 1888 as the winning design from a national competition. The exterior of the building is "sunset red" granite, quarried just 50 miles from the site. Texas paid for the construction not in dollars, but in land: some three million acres in the Texas Panhandle that would later become the famous XIT Ranch.
A $75 million underground Capitol Extension was completed in 1993, doubling the square footage of the Capitol complex and providing room for more rampant government growth. In 1995, a comprehensive interior and exterior restoration of the original building was completed at a cost of approximately $98 million. The park-like grounds surrounding the Capitol underwent an $8 million renovation and restoration in 1997. Much of this expansion took place during the administration of then Governor George W. Bush, who had never been timid about spending the taxpayer's money.
The remains of Austin's First Texas Statehouse can be seen on the Capitol grounds, near the present State Capitol building. This was also the site of the first classes ever held by the University of Texas at Austin in 1894. , the remains of Austin's first state house is directly across from the current State Capitol Building.
The ruins only amount to a few remains of the old foundation. However, there are about eight Texas historic markers at this site honoring not only the old capitol but also key figures in Texas history.
After the current capitol building opened in 1888, classes for the Austin High School were held in the old capitol for about a dozen years - until the first Austin High School building was completed in 1900. The old capitol was razed in 1899 and bricks from it were used in construction projects throughout Austin.
Well, it is the State Capitol - and formerly the capitol of the nation of the Republic of Texas when Texas was a country instead of a state. If course you have to see it. Don't miss the guided tour, it takes you through the massive new underground section, and you get to go through the galleries and legislative rooms. The capitol is built with Marble and Limestone from Texas. Congress Ave was originally fronted to lead from the colorado river dock up a long boulevard to the doors of the Capitol, to impress visiting dignitaries and easily move goods and services. It's still an impressive view to start at the river and drive up congress towards the captiol
I didn't know if I wanted to visit the capitol on a Sunday afternoon but I found to like it very much. On a Sunday there weren't huge groups of people and many of the rooms were open to view. That's not bad for a National Historical Landmark.
There is parking available for visitors. On Sunday there was plenty of parking and it was FREE (yeehaw). I just followed the signs as I arrived in the area. The signs show you where to park. You can also meter park on the street leading up to the Capitol Building.
When I arrived I toured the outside statues first. There are many plaques commemorating soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War for the Confederacy. There is also a Volunteer Firefighters memorial.
After getting some lovely pictures of the building I went inside the (huge) doors. Instantly I went through metal detectors (which always make me feel important). Then you walk into a grand hallway. As I was arriving a tour was starting. I listened to some great pieces of information, and having taught all the concepts in my classroom, I went about touring on my own. In the old Treasury Dept room you can find the self-guided tour guides. But you really don't need it. You'll find the Senate and House of Representatives rooms pretty easily.
When you're in the middle of the general area make sure to look up at the beautifully designed dome. It really is spectacular. And you'll find many people in very funny positions trying to snap some photos. Some even lie on the floor on their backs to get the perfect shot.
The gift shop is a bit confusing, though. You go down the elevators (or stairs) and then down a quiet hallway. Very strange if you ask me...
Great field trip for kids, though, and you can talk a lot about government. Only downside was the Supreme Court was open.
After touring the Capitol make sure to visit the Capitol Visitors Center on the grounds, towards the parking lot.
BEST PART: FREE! I didn't spend a dime...until I got to the gift shop :)
Texas Capitol & Extension
Weekdays 7:00 am - 10:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Hours are extended during legislative sessions.
The Capitol Information and Guide Services is located in the restored Treasurer's Business Office on the first floor of the Capitol. Free Capitol tours are conducted daily beginning in the Capitol South Foyer and concluding in the Capitol Extension. This tour features the Capitol, Texas history, and the Texas legislature.
Tours are generally 45 minutes in length and available during the following times:
Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Sunday, Noon- 3:30 pm
The Visitors Center , the Visitors Center Giftshop and the Capitol will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Day and Easter
Capitol in Austin is taller than the US Capitol, the Texas State Capitol and Capitol Grounds are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital of Texas and a favorite spot for the locals as well
Completed in 1888, this building is constructed in the Renaissance Revival style. It is on a high point overlooking downtown Austin. Of course, since this IS Texas, it's slightly taller than its counterpart in Washington, DC.