In Boise’s downtown area, one of the nicest places to see and visit is the Idaho State Capitol.
Completed in 1912, the building is more than 100 years old and is home to the Idaho Legislature.
You can soak in the magnificence of the building’s architecture from Capitol Park, a 2-acre mini park right in front of the Capitol. But whether you’re walking or driving through downtown, it’s hard to miss the building.
And if you become really curious about it, good news: it’s free to walk around inside.
I spent a good hour wandering around the building and picked up a self-guided tour booklet within a few minutes of coming in. One thing that stood out is that at the entrance, I didn’t have to go through any security checkpoint. (I guess it means that the city is really safe!)
The architectural details of the building are incredible. You can see, for instance, that different types of columns – ionic, corinthian and doric – support the rotunda.
Probably most captivating feature of the Idaho State Capitol is the dome. Don’t be surprised if your neck feels a little strained because you end up looking at it for longer than expected 😛 In the eye of the dome, you can see 13 big stars that are meant to represent the 13 original colonies, and 43 smaller stars that symbolize Idaho’s admission as the 43rd state.
Throughout the Capitol, one of the things you’ll see multiple times is the Great Seal of the State of Idaho. Interestingly, it’s the only state seal that was designed by a woman: Emma Edwards Green. The seal today was revised and updated in 1957 from the 1891 version by Green.
Now, the miner on the right has more modern clothing, the female figure on the left has been modified, a border was added and details are sharper.
I spent a good amount of time in the Senate and House Wings, as well as the public galleries for both chambers. It was interesting to be in the spaces that legislators use to come up with laws that affect the state.
There are a ton of details and rooms to admire at the Idaho State Capitol building.
On the fourth floor, where you can get to the Senate and House public galleries, there are statues that are fascinating to look at as well.
George Washington Equestrian Statue, 1869
*The statue was carved out of Idaho wood by Charles Ostner and was presented to the Territory of Idaho in Jan. 8, 1969
Plaster replica of Winged Victory (Nike of Samothrace), 1949
The Idaho State Capitol is a beautiful building that’s easily accessible and worth spending some time perusing and appreciating if you ever find yourself in Boise.