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State Capitol Building

Capitol

The Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg is a priceless palace of art filled with opulent décor, brilliant paintings and statues, and centuries of commonwealth history.

Take a Free Tour

It's free to visit the Capitol building and take a guided tour while your expert escort points out the artistic and architectural highlights.First, a little bit of history. The Capitol building you see today was built to replace an old brick capitol building that burnt to the ground in 1897. Construction on the new Capitol occurred between 1902 and 1906 and cost $13 million. Our Capitol is considered to be the most ornate Capitol building in the United States. On October 4, 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt came to Harrisburg for the building’s dedication and was quoted, “It’s the handsomest building I ever saw.”

Tour Details
30-minute guided tours are offered every half hour Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4 PM. Weekends and most holidays offer tours at 9 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM. You can schedule a tour online or call the Tour Guide Office. Groups of 10 or more need to call ahead. During regular weekdays, you can take a self-guided tour with the aid of the mobile app or a self-guided brochure. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your visit:

  • The Capitol is a working office building. Please use indoor voices and don’t run through the halls. 
  • Food and beverages are prohibited on the tour and in the Welcome Center.
  • Read the Capitol’s security procedures before you arrive. Confiscated items will not be returned.
  • You can take photos throughout the tour except when the Legislature is in session; however, no video or audio recordings are permitted in any room without prior approval.
  • When the Legislature is in session, you can watch the proceedings from the chamber galleries. These areas are open to the public, and seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
  • The Capitol tour, Welcome Center, and Capitol Gift Shop are accessible for individuals with special needs.
  • Street parking is available around the Capitol. Use the code LUVHBG on the Parkmobile app for four hours of free parking on Saturdays! For additional parking information, contact the Harrisburg Parking Authority.
  • During regular weekdays there are four public entrances to the Capitol: East Wing Entrance at the Fountain, Main Rotunda Entrance at Third and State Streets, North Office Building on North Street (closes at 3 PM) and Irvis Office Building on Walnut Street (closes at 3 PM).
  • For more information, view the Capitol’s FAQs.

Capitol Tour

 

Main Rotunda

Begin your tour in the breathtaking rotunda featuring a 52-million-pound dome that reaches 272 feet from floor to ceiling. The designer modeled the Capitol dome after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Atop the dome sits a 17-foot, 3-ton gilded bronze statue named Commonwealth. 
 

The staircase is made of Italian marble and modeled after the grand staircase of the Paris Opera House. The Moravian-tile floor, known as the carpet of history, is original to the building and contains nearly 400 pictures.

 

The Senate Chamber

Pennsylvania has 50 senators, and the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor. The desks in the chamber are the original desks, built in 1906 from mahogany from Belize. The marble around the bottom of the room is from Ireland, and the gold French velvet drapes in each window weigh 87 pounds a pair!
 

The painting that spans the top of the room is called International Understanding, and the figure in the middle represents unity. The four vertical images in the front of the room represent our country’s turning points including “Creation of a Nation” depicting Revolutionary War times and “Preservation of a Nation” depicting Civil War times.

The House Chamber

Pennsylvania has 203 members of the House, presided over by the Speaker of the House. Unlike the Senate’s roll call voting, the House casts their votes electronically using a red or green button at their desk.
 

The marble that wraps the bottom of the room is from the Pyrenees Mountains of France. The marble was donated to the Capitol by monks. Shortly after, their quarries closed and never reopened again. The painting in the center of the room, The Apotheosis of Pennsylvania, is the largest painting in the Capitol. The circular painting in the ceiling is called The Passage of Hours featuring 24 maidens for 24 hours of the day.
 

The two small chandeliers weigh two tons each while the four larger ones weigh 4 and a half ton – that’s about the size of a male African elephant!

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in Harrisburg is one of three in the state of Pennsylvania. Seven justices sit across the front of the oldest Supreme Court in the United States.
 

Like the Senate and House chambers, the mahogany woodwork is original to the building. The beautiful green stained glass dome is the only one of its kind in the Capitol. Look up because the ornate chandeliers each contain a statue!
 

This room is filled with beautiful paintings by Violet Oakley themed with “Law.” Above the doorway, you’ll find a unique and multilayered work depicting a woman’s portrait looking back at you and the words “Love, Law And Wisdom” intricately woven into the design. 

More Unique Features

  • The Pennsylvania Capitol building is unique because it houses all three branches of Government under one roof.
  • All the gold that you see in the Capitol is real, made of 23-karat gold leafing. However, it is unknown how much gold is really in the Capitol because they never kept track of it during installation!
  • The 24 stained glass windows in the Senate and House chambers represent early ideas, industries, sciences, and arts of Pennsylvania.
  • The brilliant paintings in the Senate Chamber, Supreme Court, and the Governor’s Reception Room are the handiwork of Miss Violet Oakley who was 28 years old when she was commissioned to paint for the Capitol in 1902. As you can imagine this was quite a privilege for a woman during this time. She completed 43 paintings throughout the Capitol, and it took her 25 years to complete her commission.
  • There are over 200 hand wound clocks throughout the Capitol Complex that are tended every seven days.

Interactive Welcome Center
 

History becomes hands-on in the Capitol’s Interactive Welcome Center, open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Learn about Pennsylvania’s legislative processes then cast your vote! Stomp on trivia answers, turn wheels, pull levers, and touch screens to reveal something even Mom & Dad didn’t know about Pennsylvania!
 

Welcome Center

Capitol Shop & Restaurant
 

Commemorate your trip to our commonwealth with a gift or souvenir. The gift shop is open 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM on regular weekdays. If you’ve worked up an appetite, the Capitol Restaurant by C&J Catering offers a variety of delicious food in a cafeteria style. The restaurant is open for breakfast, 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM and lunch, 10:45 AM to 3 PM.