Need to bone up on your U.S. geography? Why not head out and visit the gilded capitals of our fifty states? State capitals may be hotbeds of partisan madness, but they are also the hubs around which local economies, cultures and sentiments spin. Invariably, these buildings boast an immense amount of history and, if you visit at the right time, you can probably mix it up with a crowd of protesters.
If that is your taste, we recommend you visit Wisconsin.
To help you on you federalist pilgrimage, we've gathered photos and trivia from 10 of America's most memorable state capitals.
--Marisa LaScala, Condé Nast TravelerMore from Condé Nast Traveler:
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Denver, Colorado Year completed: 1893 Architectural style: Neo-Classical FYI: In the capitol's rotunda, 16 stained glass windows depict the state's "Hall of Fame," which includes figures such as frontiersman Kit Carson and Alexander Majors, co-founder of the firm that established the Pony Express. Visit: Historical tours leave hourly Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The House and Senate chambers open for tours mid-January to mid-May (from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) Gallery guides are on hand to answer any questions. Photo: Courtesy Scott Cramer, iStockphoto
Honolulu, Hawaii Year completed: 1969 Architectural style: Hawaiian International FYI: The eight columns in the front and back of the building are supposed to represent the eight islands of Hawaii, and the curved walls of the legislative houses recall the state's volcanoes. Visit: Scope out the capital on your own on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except for holidays), or arrange a guided tour through the Governor's Office of Constituent Services. Photo: Courtesy Dean Bergmann, iStockphoto
Baton Rouge, Louisiana Year completed: 1932 Architectural style: Art Deco FYI: You approach the capitol via a grand, 48-step staircase--one stair for every state in the union (with an amendment for Alaska and Hawaii). But don't let that be the highest you get on your visit. The Louisiana State Capitol has an observation deck on its 27th floor, 350 feet above ground. (It is the tallest state capitol building, after all.) Visit: The building is open from 9 a.m. 4 p.m. daily, except for major holidays. Photo: Courtesy Caitlin Mirra, iStockphoto
Augusta, Maine Year completed: 1832 Architectural style: Greek Revival FYI: The portico and front and rear walls are all that remain of the original, 1832 structure (designed by architect Charles Bullfinch). A major remodel in 1909-1910 enlarged the wings of the building and replaced the building's original dome with a more elongated one. Visit: Arrange a guided tour through the Maine State Museum, or check it out yourself Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Photo: Courtesy James Pauls, iStockphoto
Trenton, New Jersey Year completed: 1792 (original structure) Architectural style: Various FYI: The New Jersey State House has always been a work in progress. The original building was first completed in 1792, and a few extensions were added shortly after. In 1885, a fire destroyed a portion of the State House, which was rebuilt in the Second Empire style with a new rotunda and dome. In the 1890s, a Victorian-style addition was made to the Assembly wing. Then in 1903, the Senate wing was renovated in the American Renaissance style. A four-story office was added three years later; it finally reached its present size in 1911, and so on... Visit: Guided tours leave hourly Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as the first and third Saturday of each month (12 p.m. to 3 p.m.) The State House is closed Sundays and on state holidays. Photo: Courtesy Kenneth Kohn, iStockphoto
Raleigh, North Carolina Year completed: 1840 Architectural style: Greek Revival FYI: The North Carolina State Capitol boasts two impressive statues of George Washington. Outside on the grounds sits a bronze statue cast from a mold of Jean-Antoine Houdon's statue of George Washington in Richmond, Virginia. At the focal point in the rotunda, there's a copy of a statute that stood at North Carolina's previous state capitol until 1831. The Italian sculptor, Antionio Canova, carved George with a Roman general's uniform and haircut--and he's writing in Italian. Visit: Self-guided tours are available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 pm; and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours for groups of 10 can be scheduled through Capital Area Visitor Services. Photo: Courtesy Matej Krajcovic, iStockphotos
Salem, Oregon Year completed: 1938 Architectural style: Modern Greek FYI: The capitol contains many nods to the pioneers who made the long journey west. At the building's entrance, you'll find marble sculptures of a covered wagon and Lewis & Clark with Sacagawea--and on the backs of those sculptures, you'll find maps of the Oregon Trail. A bronze sculpture of The Oregon Pioneer tops the rotunda. Visit: Guided historical tours leave hourly Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. From spring break through September, tower tours to the observation deck are offered hourly (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Photo: Courtesy Jerry Koch, iStockphoto
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Year completed: 1906 Architectural style: American Renaissance FYI: Architect Joseph Huston may have designed the building in the American Renaissance style, but he borrowed heavily from Europe. The capitol's grand staircase was modeled after the Paris Opera House, and the building's dome is a one-third-scale copy of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Visit: Guided tours are offered every half hour, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturdays, Sundays, and most holidays, tours are given at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. The capitol is closed on major holidays. Photo: Courtesy Dobresum, iStockphoto
Nashville, Tennessee Year completed: 1859 Architectural style: Greek Revival FYI: Tennessee's capitol is the final resting place for the nation's 11th president-- tomb of President James K. Polk is located on the grounds. (The capitol's architect, William Strickland, is also entombed above the building's cornerstone.) Visit: The interior of the capitol is closed to tours for the rest of 2012 due to renovations. When tours resume, they run hourly on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Photo: Courtesy Natalia Bratslavsky, iStockphoto
Salt Lake City, Utah Year completed: 1916 Architectural style: Renaissance Revival FYI: The inside of the capitol's rotunda is a series of paintings that form a cyclorama of 19th-century life in Utah. The Works Progress administration funded the project Visit: Guided tours are offered on the hour, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except state holidays). Evening tours can also be scheduled for Wednesday nights. Photo: Courtesy Todd Keith, iStockphoto
This article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler: 50 Nifty United State Capitols
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