The aerial view of The Capitol of Puerto Rico looks like Capitol Hill, the metonym for the U.S. Congress. Beginning with its dome, this huge building, constructed in white marble, is replete with mosaic ceiling tiles depicting significant events in Puerto Rican history such as Columbus’ arrival, Spanish initial encounters with the indigenous tribe of the Tainos, slave emancipation, and the cessation of the Spanish-American war.
Puerto Rico’s Constitution is displayed in the Capitol’s rotunda just beneath its dome. The construction of the Capitol, a.k.a. “El Capitolio de Puerto Rico,” was initiated by Luis Muñoz Rivera, Puerto Rico’s former resident Commissioner, who worked to obtain the island’s autonomy, first from Spain and then later from the U.S. Completed in 1961, the many renowned Puerto Rican artists collaborated on the construction of the Capitol.
More than 20 various types of imported marble were used in the construction of the Capitol’s dome. Gold leaves decorate the dome to ensure that salt water doesn’t damage it. Built on a hill that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, there is no fee for admission to the Capitol so you can spend all the time you want exploring the government offices which are open to the public.
El Capitolio de Puerto Rico, listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as of November 18, 1977, is home to the House of Representatives and the Senate of the island. Women governors of the island have been given their “special room,” with a wall dedicated to Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor, born in New York City to parents from Puerto Rico, the first justice of Hispanic heritage.
The Capitol has one entrance to the south and another to the north. Each entrance has a district name etched into its threshold: Guayama, San Juan, Humacao, Mayaguez, Aguadilla, Ponce, and Arecibo. Eight solid pillars with seven doors have been designated for each entrance. The Capitol has three floors; the bottom floor has a ballot box that has been permanently installed.
In keeping with the times, the Capitol has gone green, replacing its high pressure lighting fixtures to induction lighting this year. The induction lights will cost a fraction of the expense with which the high pressure fixtures were maintained. Induction lighting will significantly result in much improved levels of lighting as well as incredible savings for the Capitol.
Legislative meetings between senators are conducted in the chamber which has been beautifully decorated with carpeting and eye-catching red chairs. Thick, tempered glass surrounds a seating area where locals and tourists alike can look down onto the proceedings below. Email or call for inquiries on available schedules for guided tours which are available in Spanish and English.