If you’re just visiting Austin or making it your home, your experience won’t be complete without seeing the Texas State Capitol at least once. It’s hard to miss! The large and prominent Capitol is situated in downtown Austin, and a number of fun and popular events are situated on the Capitol building grounds.
The Capitol building features prominently in the Austin cityscape, and will continue to do so, because a law prohibits blocking the many excellent views of the building from vantage points throughout the city.
Constructed on the site at the head of Congress Avenue earmarked in the original 1839 plans, the current building replaced an earlier one that was destroyed by fire in 1881. Everything was already in motion for the construction of the new building, and it commenced in February 1882.
After some delays in acquiring the stone used in the construction, the Goddess of Liberty statue was placed atop the dome in February 1888. The official opening day was April 21, 1888.
A magnificent example of Italian Renaissance Revival that was favored in 19th century public architecture, the Capitol is open to the public and well worth a visit. The rotunda forms a whispering gallery, and an actual gallery, as well, with the portraits of every person to serve as either Governor of Texas, or President of the Republic of Texas included.
Here are ten interesting facts about the Texas State Capitol to keep in mind while you’re wandering around with the camera.
- The Texas State Capitol is the largest in gross square footage of all state capitols.
- In one of the largest barter transactions in history, the builders of the Texas State Capitol were given 3 million acres of land as payment for their work. The 3 million acres become the largest cattle ranch in the world.
- Considered such a beautiful example of late 19th century architecture, there are laws prohibiting obstructing the view of the building.
- The Texas State Capitol is the second largest Capitol in the entire nation; second only to the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
- Standing at 308 ft tall the Texas State Capitol is 19 feet taller than the United States Capitol which is only 289 ft tall.
- The spiral staircase leading to the dome lantern is one of the original staircases.
- “Sunset red” granite was quarried for the external structural walls a mere 50 miles from the construction site.
- On the grounds are 17 monuments, including monuments of Confederate Soldiers, Volunteer Firemen, and a replica of the Statue of Liberty.
- Even the minor details were important. Beautifully carved wooden doors were hinged with custom bronze hinges.
- During your visit, don’t say anything you don’t want repeated! The rotunda is a whispering gallery.