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English / USA Language: English / USA

The United States Capitol is divided into five floors, one of them underground. Only the first and second floors are accessible to tourists, although it is possible to visit the basement, with the remains of the old public bathrooms, while from the third floor it is only possible to access the gallery to watch the House of Representatives and the Senate at work.


On the ground floor, you can visit the Hall of Columns, the Crypt, the Old Supreme Court Chamber and the Corridors of Costantino Brumidi, the Italo-Greek artist who painted most of the Capitol’s frescoes.


The paintings depict the history of the United States until 1865, the year in which the task was entrusted to Brumidi. The cycle painted by Brumidi was designed so as to leave room for subsequent historical events.


Among the frescoes added later are those depicting Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, the moon landing and the astronauts killed in the explosion of the Challenger shuttle.


On the second floor, where the House of Representatives and the Senate are located, you can access the Rotunda, a circular area called National Statuary Hall where there is a fine collection of statues and paintings on display, including the famous “Declaration of Independence” by John Trumbull. You can also admire the dome from the inside, as well as the enormous “Apotheosis of George Washington”, also painted by Brumidi in the oculus, suspended at a height of 55 meters. The painting is an attempt to deify the charismatic figure of George Washington, surrounded by thirteen women representing the first States of the Union, and by the Twelve Olympians.


Over the years, inside the base of the dome, measuring 29 meters across, Brumidi painted the “Frieze of American History”, a sort of pictorial history of the nation, from the arrival of Columbus to the flight of the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk.

Another three artists succeeded Brumidi, and continued to add frescoes of important events as they happened.


An interesting fact: next to the Supreme Court Chamber, there is a statue of John Calhoun; on the leg of the statue is a mark from a bullet that also left a hole in the wall behind. The shot was fired by a psychopath who entered the building armed on 24 July 1998, and shot and killed two policemen.

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