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January 23, 2005
I was impressed by how accessible the Texas State Capitol is to visitors. You can even walk right into the cafeteria where the senators eat. No big guard dogs or metal detectors anywhere. In fact, you'll walk right by the offices of those who represent millions of Texas citizens in small towns and big cities. It doesn't take long to visit the Texas State Capitol, but you'll come away with an appreciation of the history and culture of the state.
From journal Three Days in Austin
by Linda Kaye
San Antonio, Texas
August 5, 2001
There are free tours scheduled throughout the day, including Sundays or you can pick up a Self Guided Tour brochure and go it alone. The Capitol Building is open weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and on weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Capitol Visitors Center, located on the southeast corner of the historic grounds, introduces visitors to the Capitol Complex through free exhibits and a 23-minute video entitled "A Lone Star Legacy". There is a LARGE gift shop (it’s Texas remember).
Life-size marble statues of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston greet visitors upon entering the building. The terrazzo floor commemorated twelve battles fought on Texas soil, the most famous being the Battle of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto. Upon entering the Rotunda you will immediately notice the terrazzo floor with its spectacular Great Seal of Texas, surrounded by the six seals of the countries whose flags have flown over Texas. Overhead, the dome rises to over 218 feet. Unfortunately, the dome is no longer open for tours, but I remember climbing to the top many, many years ago. There is a star in the top of the dome that measures eight feet from point to point.
The House of Representatives Chamber is the largest room in the building. Behind the Speaker’s Desk hangs the flag from the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto. Here is where the 150 members of the House of Representatives work to enact the law of the state. The Senate Chamber is smaller and is the meeting place for thirty-one senators during the legislative sessions. The doors on the upper level of each chamber are open for visitors. Even if you are not politically motivated, it is very interesting to sit for a while and watch the proceedings. Legislative Sessions occur for 140 days every odd numbered year beginning the second Tuesday in January. During this period, the Capitol is very busy and parking is scarce.
The Supreme Court Courtroom, which served as the core of the Texas judicial system from 1888 to 1959, is now used as a meeting room, with its original walnut furnishings, elaborate drapery and fine wool carpet.
No matter if you are a visitor to our great state, or a citizen of it, you will enjoy a visit to this wonderful complex.
From journal Austin--Deep in the Heart of Texas