Minnesota State Capitol Tours

Minnesota State Capitol Tours – Free Guided Tours

Step inside the Minnesota State Capitol through its historic tours. Situated in the heart of Saint Paul, this current Capitol building boasts a remarkable interior. It showcases a stunning blend of old-world charm and modern functionality.

Take a Minnesota State Capitol Tour and learn about the stories and unique insights behind this iconic symbol of Minnesota’s governance.

As a proud Minnesotan, this is a must see attraction. We took at tour just after it reopened after its historic renovations, and just went back to show the kids. It was more impressive the second time around!

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What is the Minnesota State Capitol?

The Minnesota State Capitol is a magnificent building located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It serves as the seat of the state government and is a significant landmark in the Twin Cities. The Capitol building is not only a hub for politics but also a testament to the rich history and art of Minnesota.

The Minnesota State Capitol building was built in 1905. It’s a famous building that shows off the amazing designs of its creator, Cass Gilbert.

The Capitol has a beautiful dome, fancy marble decorations, and a big open space called a rotunda. If you’re interested in history or architecture, you definitely need to check it out. It’s a place that will leave you in awe!

Third Minnesota State Capitol

This is actually the third State Capitol of Minnesota. The First capital burned in 1881 during a legislative session. The second capitol was completed in 1883.

They soon realized that the new capitol was not big enough, wasn’t fireproof and has poor ventilation. Work started on the current Minnesota State Capitol Building in 1896. 

A Quick overview of Capitol History

The Capitol’s architectural design is awe-inspiring. From the roof to the dome and the chambers within, every detail is meticulously crafted.

The architect, Cass Gilbert, used was inspired by Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical design. He wanted it to look elegant and impressive. Cass Gilbert went on to design the U.S. Supreme Court Building.

On the outside, there are sculptures that decorate the building, like the famous Quadriga. The exterior is adorned with sculptures of eagles. The most recognizable is the famous Quadriga which symbolizes progress and prosperity.

It has the second-largest self-supported marble dome in the world. The capital building is made from a combination of Limestone, Marble and Granite.

The only material not sourced from Minnesota is the Marble. To keep it Minnesota in nature, they had all the raw marble shipped in and cut in Minnesota. 

Capitol Restoration

The capitol recently went through a $310 Million dollar restoration project between 2013-2017. 

The restoration brought back the original appearance of the paintings and murals adorning the capital. Also, they also did some much-needed repair work to the marble on the exterior.

They fixed up the skylights of the dome structures. In the renovations, they moved offices and made almost 40,000 square feet for public gathering spaces. 

Can you visit the Minnesota State Capitol? 

Yes, the capitol is open to the public 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday Through Friday and Saturdays from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. They close on most national holidays.

You are fere to walk around and explore the different rooms and exhibit during public hours. 

MN State Capitol Tour

the Minnesota State Capitol Tours

There are two different tours offered, guided or self-guided tour. The self-guided itinerary is available in the Tour Office. You’ll get to explore on your own the different aspects of the capitol

Why should you take a guided tour of the Minnesota State Capitol?

Taking a guided tour of the Minnesota State Capitol is the way to go in my personal opinion.

You’ll get an overview of capitol history, art, and functioning of the Minnesota state government.

They also tell the story of the artwork, historical elements and decorative parts. But the real perk is getting into locked rooms you wouldn’t normally see.

Key highlights of the guided tour

During the guided tour, you’ll get to visit various rooms and chambers. You’ll get to sit inside the Supreme Court, enter the Setnet and House Camber, view the governor’s reception area, and even stand onto the roof.

Free guided tour availability

Good news for visitors! The guided tours of the Minnesota State Capitol are free of charge. They run at the top of the hour, and last about 45 minutes long.

What can you expect during the tour?

A visit to the Minnesota State Capitol a journey told through history, art, and architecture. Depending on the time of year and weather, you will get to see some or all of these things on the tour. Here’s what you can expect during the tour:

The Rotunda

The grand Rotunda is the large room in the center of the building. The is where you can view the inner dome and the impressive artwork. 

In the glass display cases, you’ll see State Flags that Minnesota soldiers carried into battle during in the Civil War and the Spanish-American wars. This is on the first floor.

I also recommend visiting the second floor to peer down on everything and get a closer look at the artwork. 

Minnesota House of Representatives Chamber

The house chamber is the largest room in the building. It is used for both the house of representatives and joint sessions. Around it you’ll see the name of four French explorers, LaSalle, Hennepin, Perrot and Du Luth. When on the tour, you’ll be let into the gallery. 

Minnesota Senate Chamber

The senate chamber is very similar to the house chamber but on a smaller scale. They have a viewing chamber behind the president of the senate’s desk. You can view it during legislative sessions.

I’ve been on the tour twice and have gotten access to the floor of the chamber on one tour. If it’s not open, or if you don’t take an official tour, can you peer in through the locked gates. 

Governor’s Reception Room

The Governor Reception Room is decorated with white oak and overlayed with gold-tinted meatal leaf. There is a large hand-carved mahogany table in the center designed by the original architect. This room is a workspace and also used for press conferences. 

Private Entrance at the Governors Chambers MN Capitol

The Minnesota Supreme Court

The Minnesota Supreme Court is accessible during tours too. It has three rows of benches for visitors. It has notable artwork surrounding it symbolizes the legal system through different periods of time. And leaving you’ll see the statement “Where Law Ends Tyranny Begins”.

The Quadriga aka the Horses and Chariot

One of the highlights of the tour is getting to stand one the roof and see the Quadriga. It’s more commonly known as the golden horses and chariot.

They’ll take you up a spiral staircase with 65 steps and lead you out. Around the capitol, you’ll reach the statues and get one of the most impressive views of St Paul. 

The sculpture is made from gilded copper hammered around a steel frame. It is covered with gold leaf. The leafing needs to be replaced every 20 years.

Rathskeller cafeteria

On the ground floor you’ll find the Rathskeller Cafeteria. This is designed to resemble a German Dining tall. It was restored in 1999 with the original German mottoes and floral designed. It’s open for dining during the legislative’s session.

MN State Capitol Dining Room

The Vault

The vault is under the main rotunda, showing the foundation of the capitol. This was not included on either guided tour I took, but we were encouraged to explore on our own. It was impressive. You’ll find picture in the halls of the original construction.

The Vault of the MN State Capitol

Meeting Rooms and Public Art

Throughout the capital you’ll find various meeting rooms. Mostly on the second floor. There is a also an art gallery. They host different events along with a chance to learn more about the capital. 

MN State Capitol Gallery

How to plan your visit to the Minnesota State Capitol?

To make the most of your visit to the Minnesota State Capitol, it’s important to plan ahead. Here are some essential aspects to consider:

Available tour hours

The guided tours run during the top of the hour. Make sure to check the official website or contact the Minnesota Historical Society for the updated tour schedule. They also have field trips and custom tours available.

How to get a guided tour of the MN State Capitol?

It’s pretty east to get a tour. Just show up. Walk into the capitol through the main steps. Take the first right and you’ll reach a small room number 126, the Capitol Information and Tour Center. This where all tours start. It also serves at the capitol’s gift shop.

If you show up a few minutes late, they’ll let you know where you can join the current tour. Otherwise, you can wait for the next tour to start. 

Location and directions to the Capitol

The Minnesota State Capitol is located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is easily accessible by public transportation and has ample parking facilities for those who prefer to drive. Detailed directions can be found on the official website or obtained from the visitor center.

On the weekends, as long as there is no event going on outside, you’ll probably have ample opportunity to park in visitors lots, or on the street. Capitol Parking costs $2 an hour. There is no charge for parking on the weekends.

Inside the MN State Capitol

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