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Iowa State Capitol

The State Capitol’s gold dome can be viewed from numerous vantage points in Des Moines. While the exterior look is postcard-worthy, researching the history within is a fantastic way to spend an Iowa day. The Iowa State Capitol, also known as the Iowa Statehouse, is located in Des Moines, Iowa’s capital city. The Iowa Senate, Iowa House of Representatives, Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, Auditor’s Office, Treasurer’s Office, and Secretary of State are all housed in the building, which also serves as the seat of the Iowa General Assembly. The Iowa Supreme Court has a chamber in the structure, however, most court proceedings take place in the nearby Iowa Supreme Court building. The edifice, which was built between 1871 and 1886, is the country’s only five-domed capitol. While the Capitol’s principal duty is to host Iowa’s legislative body, it also serves as a living museum and a state and worldwide cultural center. The Capitol’s architectural style, which is rectangular in shape and features large windows and high ceilings, follows the usual pattern of 19th-century public building planning. A modified and polished Renaissance design exudes power and nobility while still being functional. The structure is 364 feet (111 meters) long from north to south and 247 feet (75 meters) long from east to west. The pediments of the front and back porticoes are each supported by six Corinthian columns. A magnificent piece of allegorical sculpture may be found on the pediment over the front door. The center towering dome, made of iron and masonry and wrapped in tissue-paper thin sheets of pure 23-carat gold, is the most prominent feature. A protective covering protects the gold from the elements. A viewing light atop the dome may be accessed through long and twisting steps, and it culminates in a finial 275 feet (84 m) above the main level. It was the tallest structure in Des Moines, and possibly the whole state, from 1884 until 1924. The rotunda beneath the dome is 80 feet (24 m) in diameter. From the four corners of the Capitol, four smaller domes of basic design rise. The interior of the State Capitol is adorned with large works of art and a hand-carved design that radiates the prestige of the history made within its walls. As a visitor stands beneath the first-floor dome, the interior’s grandeur, dignity, and organization become obvious. West, north, and south are connected by broad, towering passageways. The capitol’s walls are richly adorned, and the halls and chambers include a variety of Iowa wood and imported marble. The interior has twenty-nine different varieties of foreign and domestic marble, as well as wood from Iowa woods (walnut, cherry, catalpa, butternut, and oak). The regal Law Library, located on the second level, is also available to the public and has the state’s most opulent book collection. For parties of 10 or more, free guided tours are given every day of the week. Every visitor is free to wander the corridors and tour the open rooms on their own, even standing atop the glass floor, which provides a spectacular view of the gold dome inside.

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