Category

Travel Advice

America travel destinations Art Exhibits Art in America art of travel Arts and Entertainment Central Pennsylvania Arts and Entertainment Central Pennsylvania Attractions Custom trips and tours Events Exhibits Family Travel Global Tourism historic architecture history Holiday Travel Lifestyle Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Attractions and Musuems Tour Guide App Tourist App Travel Travel Advice Travel and Leisure Traveler Information World Travel

Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex

  • By
  • December 3, 2018
  • Sticky

Preserving Artistic and Historical Treasures

Rotunda Exterior Image PA State Capitol Complex
At the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building complex, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the 272-foot, 52 million-pound capitol dome glistens with Vermont granite. It’s topped with a green-glazed terra cotta tile roof and inspired by Michelangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo courtesy of Visit Hershey-Harrisburg
What makes the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building an architectural masterpiece?
You need to schedule a tour of Harrisburg and while you’re in town, add this National Historic Landmark to your itinerary.

Imagine you’re standing in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building around the time of its dedication on Oct. 4, 1906. Close your eyes and envision you’re looking skyward at what was considered to be the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The capitol building held that record for 80 years. That must have been quite a sight to behold.

Until my recent Harrisburg travel assignment, I only recall seeing this stately icon from a distance. That’s nothing to brag about considering I’m a life-long Pennsylvania resident. The day I visited couldn’t have been more beautiful as the sunbeam illuminated the dome.

As the traffic whizzed by me on one of Harrisburg’s busiest streets, I took a moment to admire the dome from the sidewalk in front of the complex before I made the climb up the exterior stairs to the entrance. I also realized I had no idea what entrance to use.

While rushing up and down two flights of exterior steps not once but twice on my way to my private tour appointment, I checked my watch and realized I was five minutes late before I entered the building. Blame it on the sprawling complex and multiple sets of doors that confused me.

Fortunately, a bystander pointed me in the right direction in the vicinity of the main entrance and a security guard mapped out my trek to the information desk in the lobby. Minutes later I met my guide who was surrounded by several large groups of visitors who were ready to embark on their tours.

Travel assignments offer many perks and Rick Dunlap, of the Visit Hershey and Harrisburg office, Harrisburg’s official tourism board, arranged my tour as part of a three-day media trip to Hershey and Harrisburg. I left Central Pennsylvania with a significantly greater understanding of why Harrisburg tours are so organized and effortless.

While Harrisburg has remained Pennsylvania’s capital since October 1812, my tour guide, Jill Fetter is a storyteller who in a comparatively short time, learned the full history and stories to keep you entertained throughout your tour. She knows the building inside and out. Jill is the Capitol Visitor Services director and The Pennsylvania Capitol Shop manager in the Main Rotunda and an expert in both the building’s history and design.

As we strolled through the first area, she began by pointing out many of the materials used throughout the complex. In case you didn’t know, Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), designed the massive capital structure based on his vision of a “Palace of Art” and that’s exactly what you’ll find. The building and furnishings cost $13 billion.

Aside from its obvious grandeur and size, the exterior of the building is a gateway to the splendor you’ll find inside – classic American Renaissance style architecture that’s combined with artistic details that are unspeakably magnificent and illuminated by approximately 4,000 lights and 48 portholes in the dome.

Suffice to say, the building lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful capitol building in our nation. In fact, history has it that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the capital as “the handsomest building” he ever saw when he attended the dedication of the building.

PA State Capitol Building Architecture Art
A visitor stops for a moment to gaze at the statues and ornamentation as he descended the grand staircase in the main building. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The interior focal point is the grand staircase – an ideal vantage point for visitors to view eight large murals by Philadelphia artists, Edwin Austin Abbey, and the famous Barnard  Statues by George Grey Barnard, and 17-foot bronze doors that each weighs a ton. Keeping your eyes fixed on one element at a time might be difficult for even the most disciplined spectator as your tour guide describes each of the massive installations of stained glass, murals, and paintings crafted by the most talented artisans of that era.

Pennsylvania historical exhibits
Love art? The capitol building is as much a series of exhibits as it is a hub for lawmakers and lobbyists. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Some of the largest rooms feature a European influence with distinctive Renaissance elements – Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor’s Reception Room. Add to that mix Greek, Roman and Victorian installations of exquisite art and ornamentation displayed throughout the building.

PA Senate and House Chambers Tours
When the legislature is not in session, you’ll have a chance to gaze at the murals, gold embellishments, custom-crafted lighting fixtures, and exquisite woodwork in the chambers. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex Tours
What will you learn during a tour of the PA State Capitol Complex? This massive structure is an ideal opportunity for students of all ages to learn local, state, and national histories, law and politics, and art and architecture. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Historians, politicians, teachers, students, architects, travelers, and anyone with an appreciation for history and art and a fascination with politics and lawmaking, should visit the Pennsylvania State Capitol complex. Architectural students will want to study how Huston, the architect-of-record, incorporated motifs that embody Pennsylvania’s achievements in history, animals, industries, occupations, and modes of transportation into his design. Whether your glance is towards the dome, straight ahead, or under your feet, you’ll find examples of Huston’s affinity for art. One example is the Moravian tiles you’ll see intermingled on the lobby floor. They were designed and manufactured by Henry Chapman Mercer of Doylestown, PA as a way to illustrate and incorporate the talents and wares of local craftsman.

Henry Chapman Mercer Moravian Tiles
As many as 400 tile mosaics by Henry Chapman Mercer, a Doylestown, PA craftsman, are interspersed throughout the first floor of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building Rotunda and nearby corridors. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
William B. Van Ingen 24 Stained Glass windows
The “Militia” is one of 24 stained glass windows in the Senate and House Chambers crafted by Philadelphia native William B. Van Ingen. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

There’s so much to see and take in at the State Capitol Building. Before you go, download the PA Capitol Self-Guided Tour Mobile app to learn about the self-guided tour stops and how a bill becomes law in PA. You’ll find research additional information in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Tours are free and offered every half hour Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on weekends and most holidays at 9 and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. You won’t be able to tour the capitol building on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas day but you’ll have plenty of other options before or after those holidays. I encourage you to register for a tour so won’t miss a detail along the way.

Fill your head with Pennsylvania history and architectural, artistic, and political highlights that will make this building’s incomparable beauty come alive for you. If you decide to wait to schedule your tour until you arrive in Harrisburg, be sure to check the schedule before arriving at the capitol complex.

PA State Capitol Complex Tour Guides
Allow Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex tour guides, Jill Fetter and her staff, to show you around one of Pennsylvania’s most extraordinary buildings.

For help planning your trip to Pennsylvania, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

Looking for more Harrisburg articles, check out https://joanmatsuitravelwriter.com/wildwood-park-nature-abounds.

Planning content after a media trip can be daunting but you can simplify your life with the Content Creators Planner, a tool I use to organize my life.

No Comments
Georgia tourism Lifestyle Travel Advice Visit Georgia Where is Georgia located? World Travel World Travel Trends

7 Reasons You Should Visit Georgia (the country)

  • By
  • September 4, 2018
7 Reasons You Should Visit Georgia
7 Reasons You Should Visit Georgia
What have you heard about Georgia, a country at the intersection of Asia and Europe? Wondering what to expect? Read on and get the details from guest blogger, Natalie Young.
Text by Natalie Young

Edited by Joan Mead-Matsui, Publisher 

What have you heard about Georgia, a country at the intersection of Asia and Europe? We went there, and have some advice for you – the culture, landscapes, food, wine, the people are so incredible, you might be overwhelmed. To help you transition into vacation mode, check out our 7 Reasons you should visit Georgia.

Anyone who wants too much of a good thing Read on…

  1. Its cuisine will make you feel bad… 

… about overeating so much. Traditional dishes such as khinkali, khachapuri or pschali are made from locally sourced ingredients and usually cooked in wood-fired ovens. You will soon notice that Georgians enjoy long feast-like dinners and are happy to share them with visitors of their country.

  1. The landscapes are a bit too much 

Georgian landscapes may cause you problems when you will be telling your friends back home of what you’ve seen during the trip. In an area smaller than 70 thousand square km, you will see terrains of all kinds: snowy mountains, sandy beaches, desert-like flatlands, rocky hills and lush forests.

  1. Georgians won’t let you relax… 

..or get lost. Due to the long history of wars, the Georgian nation is known for its hot temper, yet this goes together with extreme hospitality. Once you enter Georgia, you will feel as if you’re visiting your old friends – Georgians will greet you, make you feel at home and will bathe you in recommendations. You do not need to worry about getting lost in the country either- and even if you do end up lost on your road trip, you will eventually find yourself having dinner with Georgian families in the countryside. Of course, if you prefer to get stressed during your vacation and don’t want to make new friends, you should not go to Georgia.

  1. The weather 

If you’re planning to make a trip around Georgia, you will have to prepare for surprises. In one trip you can visit the Red Sea coast and spend the whole day sunbathing, and on the next day climb the snowy peak of Kazbek, later returning to sunny Tbilisi or heading for a refreshing stay in Borjomi. On the other hand, if you are a fan of dull, rainy afternoons, Georgia might not be the place for you.

  1. Wine 

Sorry to disappoint you, but you won’t find French wine in Georgia. That’s because Georgians take pride in their vineries that are some of the oldest in the world. Georgian winemaking traditions that date back to Neolithic period are internationally recognized and appreciated: Georgian winemaking method using clay pots is even included in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

  1. Urban culture 

You are probably visiting Georgia for its amazing nature, right? If you are not into the art scene and are not a fan of discovering peculiar cultural things, don’t go to Tbilisi. Yet, we believe it’s almost impossible to skip the country’s capital with a population over 1 million of people and a forward-looking scene of arts and culture. Visit Bassiani club, Fabrika or Tbilisi flea market, and you will soon notice that the city is much more than the beautiful architecture and fancy restaurants.

  1. Georgia is unpredictable 

Things you don’t expect to see while visiting Georgia: waterfall in the middle of Tbilisi old town, the remains of Soviet military bases, a funicular in the inner yard of a building on one of the main streets of the capital, a monastery on a tall rock (The Katskhi Pillar monastery in Chiatura), moving statues (on the boulevard in Batumi)… yet, you’re most likely to see most of these and even more.


For more advice about Georgia, visit this site. Planning your travel itinerary? Here’s an article about New Zealand.

No Comments
Travel Journalists Bistro is a learning and support group that teaches travel writers the skills they need to become successful travel journalists

Receive the latest news

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get notified about new articles

Explore


Dating Tales from the Bark Side

Dating Tales from the Bark Side

I’m not alone in my attraction to bad boys. Research shows men who have vain and somewhat, well, psychopathic tendencies…
Venture to the "Land of the Long White Cloud"
No matter where you go in New Zealand, you’ll come across various pubs with excellent beer, fine wine and wonderful…

ARTPIQ Inspires Artists

ARTPIQ Inspires Artists

Six emerging, talented artists from around the world gathered at the vernissage (a private viewing of paintings before a public exhibition…
Frost Museum FIU Artists Deconstruct and Reorder

Frost Museum FIU Artists Deconstruct and Reorder

  Twelve Miami Artists Kick-Off 10th Anniversary Celebration  Using The Past As A Tool: An Interview With Frost Art Museum…
Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania

Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania

Two weeks ago, I brought my oldest son along on a two-hour evening trip to the Lackawanna River, a tributary…
Fly-Fishing Friday

Fly-Fishing Friday

Adventures on the Water Weekly Summer Fly-Fishing Journal Fly-Fishing Friday is a weekly summer journal. Not every Friday am I…

Family fly fishing fun

Family fishing fun in upstate NY. Are you fishing for fun family outdoor vacations? The Salmon River and Tailwater Lodge Nurturing…
A Penchant for Travel

A Penchant for Travel

Above all, Marcella Nardi has a fondness for travel and writing mystery and detective novels. Her novels combine history and…
Travel 2020

Travel 2020

Dubai Tourism on behalf of the Expo 2020 Dubai is the presenting sponsor of the 17th Annual New York Times…
Learn Travel Writing

Learn Travel Writing

PLAN YOUR SOLO MEDIA TRIP (LIKE A PRO) Get the Tips You Need to Grow Your Career in the Travel…