After the quick bite at the Union Station, we decided that we should just take a walk around the area and then call it a day. After all, Suanne had not slept well on the flight.
So, we thought the best thing is to just visit the US Capitol and the surrounding area since it was just a couple of blocks away.
The US Capitol is located at the very eastern end of the National Mall. If you have a map, you will see that it is at the center of Washington DC, well, almost. The US Capitol had a direct line of sight of the White House via Pennsylvania Ave … actually almost direct line of sight had it not being blocked slightly by the Treasury building or something.
Most impressive of all, it has a direct line of sight of the entire National Mall. This line leads down to the Washington Monument and eventually end up at The Lincoln Memorial.
It was very quiet around the area which we thought was a bit odd. We would have thought that this place would be teeming with tourists and all. It was quite obvious that security around the area was tight and cars are prevented from driving right up to the building. As a matter fact, all the government buildings we come across has bollards and barriers of all shapes and form.
I think we went at the wrong time. We were there on Sunday and maybe that is why there were hardly anybody around. I thought that one could visit the US Capitol but we could not find the entrance despite rounding the entire building. We did see that they are in the midst of constructing quite a big Visitor Center.
Here is the boring part … so bear with me.
The US government consists of three separate and independent branches. These branches are known as the legislative, executive and judiciary. In simple terms, the legislative is the US Congress which sits in the US Capitol, the executive is the US President who resides in the White House and the judiciary is the Supreme Court. Each of these branches has its own powers as described in the US Constitution and have powers too to regulate each of other to prevent abuse of power.
From the US Capitol, the Congress’s main role is to create and ratify the laws of the land. It is equivalent to parliaments in many other countries.
The US Capitol is also the place where the US President is inaugurated … and also the place where many past presidents are laid-in-state.
The most striking part of the US Capitol is the central dome erected above the central rotunda. On each side of the dome is a wing, each housing the Senate and House of Representatives. Because of the size of the building, one could not really clearly see the Statue of Freedom which crowned the dome. This statue is the tallest statue in DC and is symbolic in that way it’s saying that there is nothing greater than freedom in the US.
The building is huge and is certainly the grandest of all buildings in the capital city. Suanne refers to this as the BIG White House. I asked her why and she said that it’s because it’s like the White House except that it’s bigger. LOL!
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Hey Ben and Suanne,
The reason why Sunday isn’t the busiest is because the Capitol isn’t open for tourists on Sundays.
Also as for your parking issues, you can park at West Potomac Park which is free parking after 7 AM (I believe). I was just there a couple weeks ago and we parked there at 9 until 6PM no problem. Its really close to Lincoln Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, etc.
You mentioned THE STATUE OF FREEDOM on top of the US Capitol dome. Originally, her name was “ARMED FREEDOM” because she is holding a sword in her right hand (and a laurel wreath in her left.) The word “armed” was dropped over time. Did you know her headress is an eagle?
So, the Statue of Liberty is in NYC and the Statue of Freedom is in DC. How about the Statue of Justice — do you know where she is?
Hi Headquarters: I have no idea at all. I would guess that the Statue of Justice would be in the Supreme Court but I can’t remember any statue other than the one of John Marshall. You tell me.