Texas State Capitol visits are wildly popular, thanks in part to the beauty and size of this landmark structure. The Capitol Building in Austin Texas has 360,000 square feet of floor space, making it the largest state capitol building in the country, and the corresponding campus covers an impressive three acres. When it was finished in 1888, the Texas State Capitol was dubbed The Seventh Largest Building in the World, and thanks to the fact that it is several feet taller than the U.S. Capitol, it is very hard to miss on the Austin skyline. Renovations in the 1990s helped to enlarge the structure, as well as return it to its original splendor, and for those who are interested, various kinds of tours can be enjoyed.
Work on the Capitol Building in Austin Texas began in 1882, and it didn't stop until 1888. The building replaced the former capitol building, which fell victim to fire in 1881. To fund the massive project, the Texas government traded a few million acres of land up in the panhandle region. Funds weren't as much needed for labor as they were for materials and the transportation of these materials. Convicts and migrant workers offered cheap labor, while the precious pink granite had to be brought in from 75 miles away.
A railroad was built to transport the granite that was used during the construction of the Texas State Capitol, and more than 60 stone cutters from Scotland were in place to provide their respective talents. The work was overseen by a former Confederate general turned civil engineer by the name of Rueben Lindsay Walker, and the finished product was and still is stunningly beautiful. On a Texas Capitol Building tour, visitors can learn all about the history of the place and about its Italian Renaissance Revival architecture. One of the most interesting facts about the landmark building relates to its cornerstone. This cornerstone alone weighs 16,000 pounds!
When the Capitol Building in Austin Texas was renovated in the 1990s, restoring the original grandeur wasn't the only aim. Rock was chiseled from the ground in mass quantity, creating an underground annex that covers almost 670,000 square feet. The mostly subterranean addition is actually quite airy, as it features ample atrium space and an open-air rotunda area. It is connected to the main Capitol Building and a handful of other state buildings by a series of tunnels.
In the original part of the Texas State Capitol, highlights include a lovely rotunda, an attractive foyer, and a splendid dome that can be seen from many different vantage points in Austin, including Mount Bonnell. The rotunda features portraits of past Texas governors, as well as past presidents of the former Republic of Texas, and in the foyer, sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin can be found. As for the dome of the Capitol Building in Austin Texas, it is glorious both inside and out. Inside, a lone star is located on the dome's ceiling, while the outside is capped with a Goddess of Liberty statue. The goddess has a sword in one hand and golden star in the other. The single star is the symbol of Texas, reflecting the Lone Star State moniker.
The Texas State Capitol can be found in Downtown Austin, making it easy to pair with any other number of tantalizing attractions, including the nearby Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. For those who are interested in enjoying a Texas Capitol Building tour, there are two different options. You can opt to grab an informational brochure and go on a self-guided tour, or you can choose to partake in one of the guided tours. The guided tours are free and last approximately 45 minutes. Groups of ten or more must call in advance if they wish to enjoy a Texas Capitol Building tour. Others can enjoy them with no prior reservations from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, and from noon to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
In addition to taking a tour of the building, Texas Capitol visitors might also interest themselves in the legislative sessions that take place in the second-story House and Senate chambers. There is a visitor's gallery on the third floor where you can peer in on the political process when sessions are taking place.
The normal open hours at the Capitol Building in Austin Texas are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, though they are often extended when legislative sessions are being held. For those who are planning on enjoying a full day at the building, there is an onsite restaurant that can come in handy when hunger hits. The Texas Capitol is also home to various shops where gifts and souvenirs can be purchased.