Arizona State Capitol - 13 Things to Know Before Visiting

Iconic Buildings


About Arizona State Capitol

The Arizona State Capitol is located in Phoenix, Arizona and was the last home for Arizona's Territorial government until 1912. The three branches of state government initially occupied the four floors of the statehouse. As the state expanded, the branches relocated to adjacent buildings and additions. The 1901 portion of the Capitol is now maintained as part of the Arizona Capitol Museum with a focus on history and culture. The re-opened library from 1938 occupies part of this museum as well.

Things to Do at Arizona State Capitol

The state capital of Arizona is not only a functional building where the business of the state is conducted, but it is also a work of art. The building is made largely from materials indigenous to Arizona, including malapai, granite, and the copper dome. The design is optimized for the desert climate of Arizona, with thick masonry walls that insulate the interior, skylights, and round "bullseye" clerestory windows to let heat out of the legislative chambers. The building is topped with a weather vane similar to the Winged Victory of Samothrace, visible through a skylight from within the rotunda.

The first floor of the Capitol is where you will find the House and Senate Chambers, as well as the offices of the Speaker of the House and Senate President. The second floor is where most of the public hearings and committee meetings take place. It is also where you will find the office of the Governor, as well as several executive branch offices. The third floor houses offices for legislators and staff, while the fourth floor is home to the office of the Attorney General and other law-related offices. 

The Capitol grounds are also home to several monuments, including those dedicated to Veterans, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and others. The most recent addition to the Capitol grounds is the 9/11 Memorial, which was dedicated in September 2011. 

Arizona Takes Shape exhibit

The "Arizona Takes Shape" exhibit provides school-age visitors with curriculum-related information for Arizona State History and government studies. The museum has over 20 exhibits featuring contemporary, historical and artefacts from the Arizona state-owned collections. Permanent exhibits include the sinking of the USS Arizona, the formal silver service from USS Arizona, a timeline of events pivotal in making Arizona a state, the Governor and Secretary of State's original offices, the historical senate, and the house.

The museum contains several exhibits on the history of Arizona including the Historic House Chamber, a room dedicated to the 140 changes in the Arizona Constitution over 100 years of statehood, and the Governor's office on the second floor which includes artefacts from several of Arizona's governors as well as a flag used by Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

Artefacts from USS Arizona

The USS Arizona was a ship that was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and many lives were lost. However, two historical artefacts survived the sinking because they had been removed from the ship for cleaning before the attack. These artefacts are the silver and copper punchbowl service and the bronze sculpture. Both of these artefacts are impressive and have great historical value.

The silver and copper punchbowl service is one of the most impressive historical artefacts from the USS Arizona. The punchbowl service is composed of etched copper panels depicting desert scenes set into a silver bowl ornamented with mermaids, dolphins, waves, and other nautical themes. This punchbowl service is the only one of its kind and it is a beautiful example of history. 

The bronze sculpture was ensconced outside the Admiral's stateroom and used as a centrepiece at state dinners wherever USS Arizona was docked.

Display of a collection of gifts received by Arizona as part of the Merci Train

In the aftermath of World War II, the French people wanted to express their gratitude to the United States for their assistance during a time of great need. To do this, they sent a train full of gifts to America which came to be known as the "Merci Train." This train was just one part of a larger effort by the French government to thank the American people for their generosity. 

The Merci Train was made up of Forty and Eight-type boxcars, each of which was adorned with the coats of arms of all of the provinces of France. The train made stops in 48 states, with one car being shared between the District of Columbia and the Territory of Hawaii. In total, there were 49 cars on the train, each of which was filled with donated items from tens of thousands of French citizens. 

The contents of the cars varied depending on what was donated, but some common items included paintings, sculptures, books, and other works of art. Many of these items were sent with personal notes from the donors expressing their thanks to the American people. The Merci Train was a symbol of French gratitude and friendship that is still remembered fondly today. 

Activities Around

History of Arizona State Capitol

The building was created to demonstrate that the Arizona Territory was ready for statehood. A design contest was won by James Riely Gordon, whose original plan called for the Capitol to be much larger, with a more prominent rotunda and large wings for both houses of the legislature on each side of the current building. The project had to be reduced because of funding lack, so the legislative wings were discarded from the plan and a small lead-alloy top was substituted for Gordon's decorative dome.

Construction of the Capitol building began in 1898 and was completed in 1901. In 1918 and 1938, expansions were added to the west side of the building, which increased the total square footage from 40,000 to 123,000. The Capitol served as home to the Legislature until 1960 and Governor's Office until 1974. The state planned to convert the original Capitol into a museum dedicated to Arizona's history after it ceased being used as a government building. The Arizona Capitol Museum opened in 1981 after a restoration project that spanned several years and cost over $3 million.

Even though on January 14, 2010, the Arizona State Department of Administration reported that it had sold the surrounding state buildings to private investors, the old Capitol was not part of this transaction. The tower, the two flanking legislative buildings, and other state structures were part of the sale.

On the night of June 24, 2022, and into the morning of June 25, police and pro-abortion activists clashed outside the building in protest of the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

Best Time to Visit Arizona State Capitol

The Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix is a beautiful landmark that is worth visiting any time of year. However, note that it is closed on weekends and public holidays.

Tips for Visiting Arizona State Capitol

  1. Check out the active miniature train display, with trains running.
  2. There are plenty of parking spaces available and it is free.

Interesting Facts and Trivias About Arizona State Capitol

  1. The Arizona State Capitol was the last home for Arizona's Territorial government
  2. Parts of USS Arizona, the battleship that sink in the Pear Harbour incident can be seen here.
  3. Collection of items from Merci Train sent by France to the United States are displayed here.

How Much Time Did Visitors Spend at Arizona State Capitol

Arizona State Capitol can be visited in 1 to 2 hours easily. It is not usually busy and the exhibits are self-paced.

How to Reach Arizona State Capitol

The park lies pretty much in the centre of Phoenix. From Downtown Phoenix, it is only a 30-minute walk.

Entrance Fee of Arizona State Capitol

There is no fee to enter the Arizona State Capitol.

Opening Hours of Arizona State Capitol

The Arizona State Capitol is open to visitors from 9 AM to 4 PM from Monday to Friday. It remains closed on the weekends and public holidays. The gift shop is open from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Attractions Near Arizona State Capitol

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

2.4km from Arizona State Capitol

Ro Ho En, the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, is a Japanese stroll garden located at 1125 N. 3rd Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. The garden encompasses 3.5 acres and includes a tea garden and tea house. It is a joint project of the sister cities of Phoenix, Arizona, and Himeji, Japan.

Arizona Science Center

Arizona Science Center

2.84km from Arizona State Capitol

The Arizona Science Center is a science museum located in Heritage and Science Park in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Home to over 350 permanent hands-on exhibits, the Center provides 400,000 annual visitors with interactive experiences. It has featured a number of nationally traveling exhibitions. Along with daily demonstrations throughout the Center, the Center provides shows in the Dorrance Planetarium and in a five-story, giant screen IMAX Theater.

Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum

3.07km from Arizona State Capitol

The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest museum for visual art in the southwest United States. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the museum is 285,000 square feet. It displays international exhibitions alongside its comprehensive collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design.

Pueblo Grande Museum

Pueblo Grande Museum

10.41km from Arizona State Capitol

Pueblo Grande Ruin and Irrigation Sites are pre-Columbian archaeological sites and ruins, located in Phoenix, Arizona. They include a prehistoric platform mound and irrigation canals. The City of Phoenix manages these resources as the Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park. It features a large platform mound with retaining walls. This massive structure contains over 20,000 cubic meters of fill. There were also many dwellings, and at least three ball courts and more.

Mystery Castle

Mystery Castle

10.68km from Arizona State Capitol

Mystery Castle is located in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, in the foothills of South Mountain Park. It was built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou Gulley. The sprawling 18-room, three story castle is built from a wide range of materials — stone, adobe, automobile parts, salvaged rail tracks from a mine, telephone poles, etc. It features a chapel, cantina, and a dungeon.

Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights

Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights

11.47km from Arizona State Capitol

Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights is a historic landmark in Phoenix, Arizona. The castle was built in the early 1900s by Alessio Carraro. It was inspired by the architecture of his homeplace in Italy and the castle was originally designed to be a hotel centrepiece of a planned resort. But it became a private residence soon after its construction in 1931. The castle sits atop a hill in the middle of a barren desert and is surrounded by cacti gardens.

Discover More Attractions in Maricopa County, Home of Arizona State Capitol

Maricopa County

Maricopa County

28 attractions

Maricopa County is located in the south-central part of the U.S. state of Arizona. It is more populous than 23 states. The county seat is Phoenix the state capital and fifth-most populous city in the United States. It is one of the beautiful places in the Arizona state.

Location of Arizona State Capitol


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