US Capitol -- Things to do in Washington DCThe United States Capitol is where the both the Senate and the House of Representatives meet. One can see whether or not either chamber is in session according to whether an American flag is raised over the respective house. Flag raised — that chamber is in session. No flag, they are not in session. The original US Capitol was destroyed by the British in 1814 when they took Washington, DC. During the Civil War in 1863, the large dome was placed on top. The dome, known as the Rotunda, weighs 9 million pounds and is made of cast iron. The figure on top, “Freedom”, is the figure of Lady Liberty. That figure was the model for Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty in New York, which opened some 20 years later. The Capitol Visitor Center is open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Inauguration Day. Tours of the U.S. Capitol are conducted from 8:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Tickets are free and may be booked online via www.visitthecapitol.gov. You can also try to get a tour on a walk-up basis. If they have room, they will accommodate you. Always wheelchair accessible. Entrance on the east side of the Capitol.