Iowa State Capitol Building – Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa State Capital use.jpg    Iowa State Capitol Building – Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa was built between 1871 and 1886. This magnificent building represents, both inside and out, one of the nation’s finest examples of 19th century architecture.

The interior of the capitol building is a display of different types and colors of marble, displays of art from around the world with emphasis on the Sister State, Sister City relationships of Iowa.

The externally gilded with 23-karat gold leaf dome of the capital has recently been refurbished to glow in the true beauty of Iowa, with the sun reflecting off the dome during the day and the lights showing it at night, it is a beacon of beauty for all Iowans.

When you enter the city of Des Moines you will be led to the capital sitting on the hill, giving beauty to the entire city. Visitors from around the world have commented on the style and beauty of the building, not only from the outside but inside as well.

Take a tour of the whole complex, see the gardens surrounding the capital, the memorials on the grounds, the new Supreme Court Building across the street and the view of downtown from the west side of the capital.

Stand inside and look up, you will see the artwork on the ceiling that will surely make your mouth drop open for it’s detail and beauty. Go visit the chambers where the representatives and senators meet. Walk around and look at all the displays that are there to tell you the history of the state. Step into the Governors office and see the reception room in its grandeur.

Capitol Building Address: East 9th and Grand, Des Moines, Iowa.

Tours of the Capitol last about one hour to one hour and 20 minutes. The tours can be scheduled between 8:00 and 3:30 Monday through Friday. Saturday tours are every half hour starting at 9:30 and ending at 2:30. Groups must schedule in advance.


Phone: Tour Department at (515) 281-5591.


  1. Judy Luoma says:

    Iowa State capital building. Why was Des Moines picked for the capital location?

  2. Heather Northey says:

    The capitol is in Des Moines because it is pretty close to the middle of the state. I was just there with my son’s class for a field trip in May 6th. And as simple as that is..that the truth!

  3. Travel Writer says:

    If the decision to locate the current state capital were only as simple as being close to the middle of the state, then the city of State Center holds that honor.

    Intrigue, mystery, and all of the scandalous history of politics surrounds the political maneuverings of times past as the location of the center of politics has moved around the state from Burlington, to Iowa City, and finally to Des Moines.

    Iowa was originally part of the “Michigan Territory.” When Michigan achieved statehood in 1836, Iowa became part of the “Wisconsin Territory.” The Iowa Territory was later carved out of the Wisconsin Territory to include everything of the Wisconsin Territory that was west of the Mississippi.

    The first Iowa Territorial legislature met in Burlington. While it was never officially declared to be the capitol, many historians still describe Burlington’s role of hosting the first territorial legislature as the capitol. This meeting of the first territorial legislature formalized government in the Iowa Territory. And as part of its first acts, declared that Iowa City would be the capitol of the Iowa Territory.

    Iowa City hosted the state capitol for many years. It was not until Iowa achieved statehood, that part of the new state constitution specified that the seat of government would be in Des Moines. The political intrigue of the writings of the time would make even the most strident of today’s political activist blush. As power brokers maneuvered and negotiated the form that Iowa’s state government would take, the decision to locate in Des Moines was a political decision of the time, not a geographical one.

  4. I just visited the capital today, for the first time,and wish i could spend my life there! my teacher said it would be amasing,but she was wrong, it it ten times BETTER than amazing! WOW i couldn’t belive my own eyes! we got to go up in the dome and wowowow! TO COOL! i really wish we could have met Chet Culver! that would of just blown my eyes out! i’m just a farm girl and dont get out often. it’s so cool i can’t even explane it! with the gold,and apsolutly NO wallpaper in it, wow! that is just amazing! like i said, to cool! (even though my toure guide was kinnda mean!)

  5. Gary Tracy says:

    Who are the figures in the statue on the west side of the steps above the buffalo fountain ?

  6. The figures are “generic” the represent no one in particular. They are: a pioneer, his son and an Indian scout. They are an original part of the landscaping.The landscape architect was John Weidenmann and the statuary group was designed by Karl Gerhardt from Connecticut. Gerhardt’s commission was $4,500.

  7. The law library is my favorite part of the tour. I love those staircases.

  8. i love it!

  9. Audrey Chapin says:

    I would like to know where I can purchase a US flag that has been flown over the Iowa State Capital?

  10. Recently 29th march to 31st march 2012. i have visited to Iowa and i am so exited to see Governor House with the gold leaf dome with 23 karat gold but i did not come to know how much the actual gold on it…..??

  11. You can do the calculations: The dome has a diameter of 80 feet. It is covered with 23-karat gold leaf, which was then covered with a clear protective coating. The gold leaf has a thickness of 1/250,000th of an inch. The combined weight of the gold is 100 troy ounces or 6.856 lb.

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