The Capitole de Toulouse stands proudly on Capitole Square and serves as the seat of the city's government. This is more than just an administrative building, however. In addition to government offices, the Capitole houses the National Theater of Capitole and the Salle des Illustres. Outside of the Capitole building, the spacious Place du Capitole square unfolds, and it provides a fantastic place to take a stroll, meet up with friends, or get something good to eat or drink.
The Place du Capitole, or Capitole Square, is very much the heart of Toulouse. Modeled after the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, its size is large. Due in part to the central location, it serves as a major meeting place for locals and tourists alike. Flanking the square are attractive administrative buildings, including the Capitole, so the sightseeing opportunities are excellent. Visitors might make special note of the Toulouse Cross that is integrated into the courtyard. The counts of Toulouse used this cross as the basis for their coat of arms, and it appears in various emblems throughout the Toulouse region.
In and around the year 1190, the first Toulouse France Capitol building to be erected on Toulouse's Capitole Square was completed. The need for such a building was born out of the fact that the surrounding province had become both wealthy and influential. The original administrative building didn't survive to see modern times. Instead, a newer Capitole building was built in the mid-1700s, and this explains the baroque architectural style that greets today's visitors.
The Capitole de Toulouse is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and doesn't cost anything to access. On a typical tour, visitors can usually get a good look at the town hall and the National Theater. The theater is sometimes closed, as it is used for operas, ballets, and symphony concerts. Another highlight when it comes to tours of the Capitole de Toulouse is the Salles des Illustres. Found within this museum of sorts are nineteenth- and twentieth-century works of art from local Toulouse artists.
The Place du Capitole square was redesigned in the 1990s and is a pedestrian-only zone. In addition to administrative buildings, it is home to cafes and restaurants, which are among the most popular in town. If nothing else, tourists might drop by for a cup of coffee and some people watching. They might also interest themselves in the shopping opportunities that are available in and around the square. Many boutiques are found in the immediate area, and the square itself is used as a marketplace on numerous occasions throughout the year. The main market day is Wednesday.
Due to its central location, the Place du Capitole square can be a great place to begin Toulouse sightseeing tours. A metro station that is aptly named Capitole is within very close proximity of the square, and the nearby hotels can make for excellent Toulouse travel bases. These hotels include such favorable establishments as the Grand Hotel de l'Opera, the Hotel Le Grand Balcon, and the Crowne Plaza Toulouse.