Illinois State Capitol

Built in 1868, the soaring Illinois State Capitol is in located in Springfield. The French-renaissance style building took twenty years to complete, and today it is a strong symbol of government in the city. Attaining the title of the tallest non-skyscraper capitol in the United States, the State Capitol building in Illinois is even taller than the Capitol in Washington, D.C., a characteristic which makes the building unique when compared with other state capitols around the US. Standing at a total height of 361 feet, the building contains beautiful and intricate architectural details.

The Springfield Illinois State Capitol building is topped by a dome that is 92.5 feet wide. The inside of the dome is decorated with colorful, detailed patterns and stained-glass windows. The state seal of Illinois can be seen in the stained glass as well. Gazing up into the dome is a highlight of a visit to the capitol building. On the outside, the dome is plated in zinc, which gives it a silver appearance, and because this material doesn’t weather, the outside façade of the dome hasn’t changed since it was built. On the top of the dome, an Illinois flag is flown.

A law has been passed to keep the Illinois state capitol as the highest building in Springfield, and no construction projects are permitted that plan to build higher than the home of the state government. Visitors can tour the Illinois state capitol seven days a week. The opportunity to watch lawmakers in action is unique especially for students. The state capitol building in Illinois is also home to the offices of the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer. With limited hours on the weekends (9 am to 3:30 pm) it is best to tour the capitol during the week when the legislature is in session.

The Springfield Illinois state capitol is not the first location for a capitol building in Illinois. Originally built in Kaskaskia along the Mississippi, this city was the regional capital. A series of capitol buildings were built throughout history, making the present Illinois state capitol the sixth building constructed for this purpose in Illinois state history. It was the idea of Abraham Lincoln to move the capitol to Springfield. The fifth capitol building is where the young lawyer Lincoln argued cases in front of the Illinois Supreme Court. Today, this former capitol building remains an important historical landmark as well.

The Springfield Illinois State Capitol is a regular destination for school trips and for tours. One of the most popular destinations in Springfield, it is educational for its design, historical significance, and as an active center of government. The building is shaped like a Latin cross and purposefully aligned to the main directions of a compass. One of the most impressive state capitols in the country, the state capitol building in Illinois is an important destination on any tour of the region, and its location in a major city with an airport and rental cars makes it especially easy for visitors to access.

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