Updated: Aug 6, 2018
The U.S. Capitol Building is one of the most distinguishable buildings in the world and the epicenter of American democracy. The world-famous rounded building is home to the United States House of Representatives and Senate; where America’s congressmen and congresswomen handling business, argue laws and permit bills on behalf of the American people.
How do I organize a tour of the United States Capitol?
Plan your visit in advance! A public tour of the U.S. Capitol is free and open to anyone who makes a forward-thinking reservation .We advise booking a tour date and time online.
All tours start and end at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, open Monday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Inauguration Day). Tours normally take about 90 minutes.
What will I see on the tour?
Guided tours start with a 13-minute intro film, stop in the Capitol Rotunda, where guides call attention to the middle point of the District of Columbia, as well as prove the unique acoustical effect where a speaker several yards away can be heard more clearly than a speaker close to the listener.
The Capitol Dome is surrounded by murals, and the fresco on the eye of the ceiling is called The Apotheosis of Washington screening President Washington rising to the heavens in glory with Liberty and Victory/Fame beside him. Below, on the walls of the Rotunda, are large paintings portraying significant events in American history—The Validation of the Declaration of Independence, The Embarkation of the Pilgrims, The Landing of Columbus and General George Washington Resigning His Commission. Other stops on the 45-minute walking tour include the Crypt, National Statuary Hall and some connecting corridors of the U.S. Capitol, where you’ll see statues representing every state, now 100 in total.
Can I see Congress in session?
Visitors can obtain free passes through their congressmen to view both chambers when Congress is in session. International visitors can ask about gallery passes at the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level of the Capitol Visitor Center. When Congress is not in session, the galleries are open to the public Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. However, viewing hours are subject to change and are not always the same for the House and Senate galleries. You can check the schedules with your Congressional office when requesting gallery passes.