The capital city

Take in the sights and sounds of the seat of Illinois government

click to enlarge Illinois State Capitol houses the executive and - legislative branches of the Illinois government.
Illinois State Capitol houses the executive and legislative branches of the Illinois government.

Illinois State Capitol
101 S. Second St.
217-782-2099

Illinois boasts a stunning State Capitol, and in recent years the legislative chambers and multifloor west wing were magnificently restored. It is well worth visiting this National Historic Landmark. Construction began on the sixth and current Illinois Capitol in 1868 after officials determined that more space was needed for government business. The building took 20 years to complete and cost more than $4.5 million. The first legislative session in the new Capitol was held in 1877, but the structure wasn't finished for another decade. Designed in the shape of a Latin cross and capped by a 361-foot-high dome, the building stands 74 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol.

In addition to watching Illinois politicians from the balcony-level seating area, visitors can view the awe-inspiring artwork, statues and paintings inside the limestone Italian Renaissance Revival building. Murals, a variety of marbles and a unique architectural design add to the elegance and grace of Illinois' center of government.

Guided tours are the best way to learn more about the historic building, Illinois state government and the history of Illinois represented by statues, murals, portraits, paintings and other artwork. Free tours are given every half-hour on weekdays and start on the first floor, north wing. Visitors must remain with the tour guide on weekends, so go during the week if you want to explore. Enter through the east door. Visitors must go through metal detectors. Park for free at the Capitol Complex Visitors Center, 425 S. College St.

Open many holidays, but call ahead first.

Illinois Governor's Mansion
410 E. Jackson St.
217-782-6450
www2.illinois.gov/sites/GovernorsMansion
Free

Built in 1855, the Illinois Governor's Mansion is one of the oldest and most historic governor's mansions in the U.S. The Mansion reopened in July 2018 after a spectacular, privately funded three-year renovation. It is now fully ADA accessible and has professionally trained docents for guided tours, as well as expanded programming and an all-new visitor center. Rooms are dedicated specifically to historic events, including the Columbian Exposition and past Illinois governors. Individuals and groups who would like to tour the Governor's Mansion are required to have a reservation in advance.

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