United States Capitol

Grand, white, visually complex and dominant to its surroundings, the United States Capitol is with Westminster palace and Bundestag probably the most photographed and distinguishable parliament building in the World.

The history of the building can be somewhat read in its outline. The two building wings closest to the dome and having the most straightforward character are its oldest parts. Elevated on the rusticated ground floor, they exhibit moderate ornamentation, pilasters, arched window pediments and roof balustrade.

Outer wings of the house, built as the number of the representatives grew, are displaying richer architecture with double Corinthian colonnades and ornate porticos at the front and balustraded loggias at the back. The porticos of the new wings show more elaborate decoration, with fluted columns and amply decorated tympanums, compared to the plain surface columns and simple sculptures of the older central portico.

As the new wings were added, the original, much smaller dome was replaced with more appropriate one, placed on the imposing double tambour (drum), lower encircled with a peristyle and upper decorated with pilasters. The dome design was directly influenced by the domes of Parisian Pantheon, St Peter’s Basilica of Rome and St Paul’s Cathedral of London, both in appearance and structurally. A statue of Freedom overlooks the structure, set on top of the columned tholus crowning the dome.

Regardless of the number of architects and artisans that built, rebuilt and upgraded the Capitol, the style and proportions of the basic elements remained the same and evolved by addition seeing the building grow together with the country.

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