This self-guided walk will show you the Capitol Hill in Washington DC. My one day Capitol Hill walk will take you to the famous halls of the US Capitol and the Library of Congress and we will also visit the nearby US Botanic Gardens.
Seeing all these attractions needs a full day and you should prepare your trip in advance, at least a little bit. Make reservations to the Capitol on their own website, at least if you are visiting in the summer.
I went to Washington DC in November which turned out to be a perfect time to visit. Washington nature gave its best and there were hardly any tourists around.
Capitol Hill Walk on the Map
Map of my Capitol Hill walking itinerary
This is a map of Capitol Hill, Washington DC, at the end of the National Mall, and my Capitol Hill walk is marked on the map. It’s not a long walk at all, probably something like a mile only.
After you have done this you have to see more of Washington DC. You have to see the National Mall: National Mall Walking Itinerary, Washington DC. But now we will start with the Capitol Grounds.
You can first have a look at the green area of Capitol Grounds around the US Capitol building. And from further away on the National Mall and behind the Reflecting Pool you can get a great views of the US Capitol building.
But to find the entrance to the US Capitol you have to go to the other side behind the building.
The US Capitol
This is the US Capitol, the highest building in Washington DC. It’s the white building on the top of the Capitol Hill.
The US Capitol is not just any building, it is one of the most important buildings in the world and the home of the Congress and Senate of the United States.
The public entrance is at lower level behind the building. The photo shows the upper level. Be prepared to be inspected.
To see the building you have to take a guided tour. Make a booking on the website in advance. In low season you might have good luck and get a tour without pre-booking it. Even in that case you will probably have to stand in the ticket queue for a long long time.
House of Representatives
If you want to visit the House Chamber where the Congress sits and the Senate Chamber these visits have to be arranged separately.
What surprised me they even let overseas visitors get in the Chambers and watch the sessions. One more inspection, no cell phones or cameras allowed, and remember your ID. But it was so interesting and really worth the trouble!
Here you can see our tickets to the House of Representatives.
The US Capitol guided tour first takes you to the Crypt. The Crypt has 40 Doric columns and statues from different states. Originally the crypt was planned to be George Washington’s tomb.
The Dome of the US Capitol has wonderful paintings and statues presenting important events in American history, and remarkable people.
National Statuary Hall
The Old Hall of the House of Representatives, the National Statuary Hall, also has statues from different states. Every state has two statues of its notable citizens in this hall of the Capitol.
Next to the US Capitol is the Library of Congress. You can get to the library through an underground tunnel.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is huge. It is the world’s biggest library and has a collection of 150 million items. The library is one of the three buildings on Capitol Hill that any citizen is free to use, not just the congress members.
If you only have time with one of the library buildings, visit the Thomas Jefferson Building which is known for its stunning architecture.
To get more out of your visit take a free one hour’s guided tour. The guide will show you the highlights and you can examine more on your own afterwards.
These pictures are from the Great Hall of the Library of Congress. The Great Hall is decorated with arches, columns and balconies. Look at the library!
Reading Room and the Bibles
This is the Main Reading Room. It has eight marble columns with female figures looking at the readers lower down in the hall.
The Library of Congress has two real treasures from the 1450s in its collection: the printed Gutenberg Bible and the handwritten Mainz Bible.
Jefferson Collection and Magna Carta
The library has much more: a collection of Thomas Jefferson’s books, old maps and bibles, children’s books and comics and so on.
The old map in the picture is worth 10 Million dollars, it’s the first map ever with the word America.
The day I was visiting happened to be the opening day of a magnificent exhibition of the original Magna Carta 1215. Magna Carta (the photo in the middle) was brought from the Lincoln Cathedral, Great Britain, just for this Magna Carta exhibition.
US Supreme Court
Next to the Library of Congress is the United States Supreme Court. The court building looks like a Greek temple and you can visit the court proceedings for free.
I missed it since the court had already closed for the day when I was finished with the other Capitol Hill walk attractions. But there was still time to go and see the Botanic Gardens before dark.
US Botanic Garden
After my Capitol Hill walk in cold Washington weather I really needed a moment in warm tropical weather. Two days ago I arrived from Florida…
See my photo gallery on US Botanic Garden:
I appreciate that people can just walk in the conservatory and the beautiful gardens around it and look at all the plants from different climate zones they have here. And I liked this little bird so much. It was looking at me from the bush. But it was getting dark and I had to finish for today.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Capitol Hill walk in the capital of the United States. If you have been to the Capitol Hill what more would you tell others planning to visit?
More on Washington DC
If you are planning a trip to Washington DC, these two articles might interest you: