I have driven past the Iowa State Capitol building many times and have always wondered what it looked like on the inside. It’s hard to miss this beautiful building. When driving by you are sure to catch a glimpse of the twenty-three karat dome that can be seen for miles.
After all of these years, while traveling through Des Moines, I have finally decided to step inside and take some photos.
When first entering the building, you will be met by security who will ask you to put your metal objects in a basket before walking through the metal detectors. If you have a concealed carry license you are welcome to bring your gun inside but they will hold onto your knife because for some reason knives are not allowed but guns are, makes sense.
All of the security areas look similar so if you do decide to leave your knives by the door be sure that you head back to the same entrance before exiting the building to collect your stuff or leave it in the car.
Once I started exploring the building I began wondering if my memory card was going to be enough for this trip because almost every nook and cranny caught my eye. It made me want to take a million pictures of everything that I saw from the floors to the ceilings, even the staircases were gorgeous.
I have always loved staircases for some reason, especially ones with unique designs, and old wooden staircases are my favorites. As someone who notices things like this, I am pretty impressed by the number of beautiful staircases I was able to see in the Iowa State Capitol. There are so many cool angles and designs so it was pretty hard to decide which ones I should share in this post.
If you want to see them all, follow me on Instagram, I will be sure to share them all there eventually.
These two staircases were my favorite even though they probably aren’t quite as impressive as what is known as the “Grand Staircase” I really liked them.
Another beautiful sight to see in the Iowa State Capitol Building is the intricately designed ceilings. There is no shortage of gorgeous artwork and gilded decorations here.
Every time I entered a new area, I was doing my best to look up, look down, and try not to trip while taking in the sights.
It was really interesting to see the ceilings and staircases from different levels. The circular design really made every angle an interesting point of view to take in the same artwork from a different perspective.
The stained glass and muntin on the ceiling allow for the sunlight to be drawn in above some beautiful artwork by yet another staircase.
The Iowa State Capitol has only three floors so I was able to take a different staircase almost every time I headed to the next level. Every level deserves a look from multiple angles so I explored every area that I was allowed to visit.
This reminds me, be sure to call ahead before visiting the State Capitol to find out if the entire building is open to the public.
There was one particular room in the Iowa statehouse that I wanted to see more than any other, the law library. Unfortunately, it was closed and although I called ahead before visiting to make sure I could tour the building, I was unable to see the Law Library for myself.
When calling to see if the building was accessible to the public right now, I was assured that it was open for tours. It turns out that although I was told that I could tour the Capitol, I didn’t ask specifically about the law library. If this is a deal-breaker for you, be sure to call ahead and ask if the law library is accessible to the public.
When visiting a gift shop and taking photos of the Capitol, it is easy to forget that business is actually done here. When I found myself looking into the Senate Room on the North wing and looked into the House of Representatives on the South wing, I was reminded of that important fact.
Walking by the governor’s office was a pretty surreal experience too. I thought to myself, hey I know her from all of the hate comments on Facebook. Just kidding. Obviously, I knew her before the constant live-streaming on Facebook with Covid briefings.
Unfortunately, that is the state our world is in. People have zero respect for the office and because they disagree with her, they feel the need to say the meanest things that they can think of and post it for the world to see.
No matter who holds the office I will always respect and hold the position in high regard, much like the office of President. It’s kind of hard not to feel this way when touring a place like the Iowa State Capitol in person.
When to Visit the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa
While the Capitol is closed on Sundays, and some holidays, tourists can visit the building Monday- Friday between 8 and 5 as well as on Saturdays between 9 and 4.
Visitors can go on a self-guided tour whenever the building is open but the Capitol also offers guided tours for those who want to dig a little deeper and learn about the history of the building.
Visting the Iowa State Capitol
The Iowa State Capitol Building is located at 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319 Be sure to call ahead to make sure that the Capitol building is accessible to the public, confirm tour times, and hours. The phone number to call for all information regarding your visit to the Iowa State Capitol is 515-281-5591
Where to Park When Visiting the Capitol
The public entrances are located on both the south and west sides of the building. I found parking by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the south side to be the best area to park. This location allowed us to get a glimpse at the statue, take some photos of the outside from a good distance, and enter the building without walking too far in the cold.
Check out the History on that Statue
If you look close at the bottom left side of this monument honoring Iowa’s Civil War Veterans, you will see the “Mother Iowa” statue. This statue is designed to depict a mother offering nourishment to her children. I had never heard of this statue before visiting. Now that I have googled “naked woman holding breasts statue Iowa” I have learned that this is a pretty well-known piece of art.
When pulling up to the monument and seeing horses and the typical designs you would see outside of a government office, seeing the woman holding out her bare breasts was kind of funny. I really wanted to know what this had to do with the Civil War. So after researching it, which will probably lead to me having to clear my internet history, I still don’t really know what a mother offering nourishment to her children has to do with the Civil War.
Feel free to leave me a comment if you know more about this statue, I would love to hear about it.
I hope you enjoyed getting to see what the inside of the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa has to offer. Please share this post on your favorite social media channel.
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Do you want to learn more about what Iowa has to offer? Check out these Travel Posts featuring Iowa below.