On my latest trip to Denver, Colorado I discovered the unparalleled beauty of the city´s home to the Colorado Governor and the Colorado General Assembly. With its distinctive gold platted dome, the Colorado State Capitol is not only a landmark in Denver´s skyline, but also a true architectural masterpiece when it comes to interior design.
As soon as I stood underneath the by daylight illuminated, majestic rotunda throning above me, I instantly thought that this could also have been the perfect set for the dancing scene in Disney´s “Beauty and the Beast” where Belle and the Beast danced their inaugural waltz.
Looking quite impressive already from the outside with its shiny golden cupola, I have to admit that I did not expect so much sophistication and attention to detail in the inside. While some governmental buildings in the U.S. impress by extraordinary facades and exterior decorations, a huge number of them fail to continue to carry this into the inner.
Completed in 1894, its architect Elijah E. Myers designed it to be reminiscent of the capitol in Washington D.C. . It is made completely of Colorado white granite and marks the beginning of the Capitol Hill district, therefore it sits higher than the rest of the Denver downtown area which adds to its extraordinary appearance as a landmark.
Probably its most remarkable architectural detail is the open entrance hall right underneath the dome which towers 55 meters above it. Two inner courtyards, each of them leading off from the center staircase, create a very airy and spacious atmosphere.
The third step towards the main entrance of the capitol from Lincoln Street shows an engraving of being exact location 1 mile above sea level, contributing to Denver´s original nickname the “Mile High City”.
An interesting fact that I personally was not aware of was that most marble stones that had been used in the inside of the capitol were of Colorado origin. Being called Yule marble, the stone was used for the flooring throughout the building and originated from a town called Marble, Colorado.
Only the steps of the staircases inside the capitol were manufactured from the more softer Italian marble. Apart from that, large numbers of rare Colorado Rose Onyx (a seldom form of rose marble) was used for interior decoration which actually completely consumed the entire supply from a small city in Colorado called Beulah.
The highly distinctive golden dome (originally made of copper panels) atop the capitol was not added before 1908, commemorating the famous Colorado Gold Rush. It had actually been planned to gild large parts of the interiors as well with a golden leaf cover, yet the costs would have tremendously exploded the funding for the construction and the idea was put aside.
Many windows inside the capitol are stained glass and resemble distinctive people and important events related to the state´s history. A rotunda on the third floor of the building is completely decorated with portraits of American presidents.
The building is open to the public from Monday to Friday and it can either be toured individually or during a guided tour which is free of charge. The latter gives access to the panoramic viewing platform on the fourth floor of the tower, offering fantastic vistas over downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains in the distance. It also gives great insight into the most important details about the construction and the interiors of the capitol.
It was also very interesting to see the original Colorado Supreme Court and the House and Senate chambers which were all open to the public. I have actually rarely experienced a governmental building which had so few restrictions when it comes to touring and sightseeing it. And without paying any admission for it, this is a Denver highlight that should definitely not be missed by anyone!
And it is well worth it to set the alarm clock for the tour. As they are operated on a first-come-first-serve base (limited to a maximum of 30 people per group), it surely isn´t a bad idea to participate in one of the first ones taking place in the morning. The first tour starts at 9 am and they run on an hourly rate until 3 pm.
I have brought some of my favorite impressions that I collected during my early morning tour along. I would say, it is definitely a must see for your very own visit to Denver, don´t you think? For more information about the capitol, check the official website. And please feel free to share this article if you like it and/or if it was helpful for you. Thank you, guys! And enjoy your visit!