Wednesday, November 23, 2011

US Capitol Dome Tour

Back when Suzy worked for Senator Bennett she became good friends with an electrician who worked for the Architect of the Capitol, and he was kind enough to use his special access to take Suzy and even a few of our visitors on private tours of the US Capitol Dome.  Unbeknownst to most visitors, there are stairs that wind all the way up through the Dome to where you can look into the Rotunda of the Capitol, and then step outside for incredible 360-degree views of the city.  It was a special treat to have these tours because really the only other way to access the Dome is to have a Congressperson take you, which doesn't happen a lot.  Well, Suzy quit her job and lost this access before I had a chance to take the tour, so this one has been on my DC Bucket List for years.  The urgency increased with the prospect of moving away from DC.  So I was super excited when my friend extraordinaire, who we'll call Reverend Parker, invited me to join a tour with Representative Bishop on a beautiful Autumn morning. It was AMAZING -- definitely my favorite individual tour in DC.  The above photo is from the Rotunda canopy, which hovers 152 feet above the Rotunda floor.  For perspective, I took the below photo from the Rotunda floor looking up, and the canopy is a balcony at the last ring of white just before the giant fresco in the middle.

And that giant fresco in the middle is Constantino Brumidi's Apotheosis of George Washington, which covers 4,664 square feet and is even better up close than from down below. This is what the fresco looks like from the canopy.  If you click to zoom in, you'll be able to see the cracks in the plaster, which are there because Brumidi had to apply the plaster in sections so that he could paint it while it was still wet (at least that's what I'm told).  The painting is so spectacular and detailed up close.

I took the below picture while poking my head out of one of the those pink coffers.  You can almost see the whole length of the dome, with the fresco at top, then the canopy/balcony, the dome, and all the way down to the Rotunda floor.

And this is the Good Reverend Parker enjoying the view from the top.

Me, standing 250+-feet above DC.

The below photo, which I took last winter, gives some perspective on where the above picture was taken -- right at the top of the Dome, right below the pillars holding up the Statue of Freedom, there is a balcony ringing the Dome.

To cap off a perfect tour, we had the good fortune to visit the Speaker's Balcony on the front of the Capitol, which is definitely the best porch in DC.  Throw a couple rockers out there and watch the traffic go by.

 Awesome tour from an awesome friend.

1 comment:

Anne said...

I remember that tour. It was amazing! Love your pics Jeremy!