The building is laid out as most Capitols are -- a huge, central, open dome area with four wings housing the senate, house of representatives, and various offices. The wood is dark and ancient, the stairs curving and ornate, and the atmosphere a sweeping and elegant late-19th-Century chic.
The area under the dome is an open atrium extending down to the first floor, and railings on each floor provide a safe viewing area. Visitors are not allowed above the fourth floor, but easily visible from any floor is the word "T-E-X-A-S" engraved around a huge star in the middle of the dome (click to view a larger image). On each floor, the walls of the circular halls are filled with photographs and paintings. The walls on the first floor have images of the most recent governors, including George Bush. There is enough blank wall space for seven more.
The Texas State Capitol was originally built in 1839, but burned in 1881. The cornerstone for the current building was laid March 2, 1885 on Texas Independence Day. The building was dedicated in May 1888. While the top of the dome declares this to be "T-E-X-A-S," the bottom has inlays of the six seals representing the countries whose flags have flown over Texas. The countries are: The Kingdom of Spain, The Kingdom of France, The Republic of Mexico, The Confederate States of America, The United States of America, and The Republic of Texas. The Republic of Texas qualifies as a country -- after the Texas Revolution, Texas was a sovereign nation from 1836 to 1845. Its borders at that time included parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. These six countries are also the "Six Flags Over Texas" for which the original theme park in the chain was named.