Our third and final morning in D.C. began with blue skies and a tour of the Capitol !
Since this trip was pretty last minute, I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to get a tour. I’d heard that you needed to go through a Representative or Senator, but fortunately it turns out there is also an online reservation system . They had exactly one time slot available for the weekend, so we moved stuff around to make sure we could squeeze it in.
The tour began in the crypt , a circular room directly below the rotunda that has 40 columns made of brown stone. These columns are what support the floor of the rotunda, with equal weight on each. There is a star in the center of the floor that is the symbolic center of Washington D.C., and around the room are 13 statues representing the original colonies.
As you can see, we weren’t the only ones taking the tour! From there we headed upstairs to the rotunda itself, which was as grand as you’d imagine it to be underneath the big cast iron dome.
We also had a chance to walk through the Old Hall of the House of Representatives , which is now called Statuary Hall and features – you guessed it – more statues. But what was truly cool about this room was John Quincy Adam’s “Whisper Spot.” We stood exactly where his desk used to be while our tour guide walked to the other side of the room. She turned off her microphone, talked in her normal voice – and it was as if she was still wearing the microphone. We could hear her loud and clear. As she began to walk back toward us, her voice became harder and harder to hear despite the fact that she was speaking at the same volume. The effect has to do with the acoustics of the room. Legend has it that this is how Adams eavesdropped on everyone’s conversations.
I’m a history nerd, I know.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the current chamber for the House of Representatives or the Senate. Not sure why that was – perhaps they were in session. Once the tour was over, we made our way to the National Archives to check out the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Though the documents are considerably faded, it was amazing to stand in front of the real deals.
The line took a bit longer than we thought, so we improvised the few hours we had left before our flight home and decided to revisit the Lincoln Memorial in the daytime. I’m so glad we did!
It was just as awe-inspiring as it had been the night before…
…but the view from the top was even better if you ask me.