- Capitol Hill
Lonely Planet review for Capitol
Since 1800, this is where the legislative branch of American government – ie Congress – has met to write the country's laws. The lower House of Representatives(435 members) and upper Senate (100) meet respectively in the south and north wings of the building.
A visitor center showcases the exhaustive background of a building that fairly sweats history. If you book in advance (through http://tours.visit thecapitol.gov) you can go on a free tour of the building, which is as daunting as the exterior, if a little cluttered with the busts, statues and personal mementos of generations of Congress members.
To watch Congress in action, US citizens can request visitor passes from their representatives or senators (202-224-3121); foreign visitors show passports at the House gallery. Congressional committee hearings are actually more interesting (and substantive) if you care about what's being debated; check for a schedule, locations and to see if they're open to the public (they often are) at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.