No place like dome

In which we climb a lot of stairs

The Kansas state capital is Topeka, and the statehouse there has a really incredible dome. Did you know this? I did not know this.

For our most recent Final Friday - a break from work to celebrate the past month's efforts - we got a guided tour of the Kansas Capitol building, including scaling its very, very impressive dome.

Thats it
That's it.

The dome was built in 1866 (and completed in 1903! The first draft crumbled after a hard winter damaged the foundation, and they had to restart the project). It's covered in neoclassical stuff: columns, molding, trompe l'oeil paintings of virtues like Labor and Scholarship. The dome got a facelift a few years ago, and they re-opened access to the tippety-top of the dome.

You walk upstairs and around a few galleries in the upper levels of the dome, and you get a great closer view of all the decorative bits. You can also look down and see all the legislators bald spots. It's neat, and you already feel high up. But did you see that glass dome at the top center, and the chandelier? That's not the top.

We're going up.

Rrrreal big

It's hard to capture the scale of this well, but if you take a curving staircase around the topmost gallery, you emerge into the Inner Dome - a huuuuuuuge vaulted brick and timber and steel dome that surrounds the glass one we just saw. The guides told us this inner volume was eighty feet tall.

There are stairs that curve around and through this space. At times you're on a stairway that's suspended over all that open air, and the climb finishes with a tight spiral staircase at the top that's HANGING FROM THE TOP of the dome. At every landing, the guide gave us a chance to go backwards - because with each ascent, it gets more intimidating.

Lots of steps

There are stairs that curve around and through this space. At times you're on a stairway that's suspended over all that open air, and the climb finishes with a tight spiral staircase at the top that's HANGING FROM THE TOP of the dome. At every landing, the guide gave us a chance to go backwards - because with each ascent, it gets more intimidating.

Once you hit the top, you emerge into the cupola, a tiny structure at the top. And then you get to go outside. There's a small walkway that loops around the Cupola, and you get the best views of Kansas for 100 miles.

Dome People
Nate took the photo!