Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Austin's Greatest Monumental Sites to Visit

By Rachel Rosen

Austin monuments are soaked in a history and mystique that's both southern tinged and 100% unique to Texas. Texas history is on one side proud and rugged, while on the other stately and luxurious. The various historic buildings and monuments in Austin tell the story of the people that braved and tamed the outback to mold Austin into the urban and sleek city that it has become.

State Capitol

Distinguished in the National Register of Historical Places in 1970, the Texas State Capitol is a stunning domed building that's harking back to the nation's white house, apart from the State Capitol building is "sunset red" Granite. The building was finished in 1888 and was built in Renaissance Revival Style, based on 15th century Italian design. The structure is characterized by symmetrical composition, round arches and rich embellishments. Outside walls are accented by flamboyant steel gates. In the 1990s, many restorations were performed to increase the size to accommodate occupants, making the Texas State Capitol the largest state capital vis gross sq footage, second biggest only to the nation's capital. Interior restorations were finished to the tune of $98 million, and in 1997 the grounds were renovated and revived at a cost of $8 million. Visitors can take a tour, visit the Capitol Complex Visitors Center, Capitol Gift Shop and Texas State History Museum. With all of its grand architectual style, this is definitely a place you will want to stop during your trip to Austin.

Governor's Mansion

Located in Colorado Street in Austin, Texas, the Governor's Mansion is a great monument to tour and get a feel of the culture and history of the town with its rather old-school ambiance. The facility has served as a home to every governor who has served Texas since the state's fifth governor. The Governor's Mansion was designed by the well-recognized architect Abner Cook during 1865 and is one of Austin's most classic and elegant structures. The villa is well redecorated with pieces of furniture, such as Sam Houston's bed, and numerous older artwork and antique furniture. The mansion was constructed with the utilisation of bricks and wood material. During your trip to the facility, keep a look out for holes in the banister where Governor James Hogg punched in tacks to prevent his youngsters from sliding and falling down it. The tour is open to the public daily which lasts for about 20 minutes per tour. The house is only open to visitors every Monday to Thursday with free admission.

Mount Bonnell

Located in the north part of downtown Austin, Mount Bonnell is named after the hack and infantryman who fought in the Texan war for independence. The place is a great area to go and visit to gain a better view over the whole city of Austin. The monument stands 750 feet tall and is accessible thru 100 high steps with great dramatic perspectives of the city, the western hills and even the Colorado Brook. Public visits are allowed from 5am to 10pm daily and with no charge. For a great view of the city and a little bit of a history lesson, this is the place to go.

The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill Hotel was built in the Romanesque style and has arches, columns, and beautiful porches that look out onto the streets of downtown Austin, the Driskill is a four story hotel built in the 1880s by cattle baron Jesse Driskill. Guests of the Driskill Hotel have included the state legislative assembly while the Texas State Capitol was being built, among others, some of which has been reported to never have left. More contemporary Driskill Hotel guests have reported many unusual goings on and many individuals, including staff, think the hotel to be haunted. If hauntings are of interest, ask to remain in Room 525, the room of the suicide brides. Now the hotel is a wonderfully run 5 star hotel with great rooms, great dining at 1886 Cafeteria & Bakery and the 4-star Driskill Grill with cook Jonathan Gelman. The Driskill even offers live entertainment nightly, generally offering urban country, soul, jazz and blues performers.

Texas State Cemetery

Although not classed as historic buildings in Austin, the Texas State Cemetery is a historic site in its own right. Visitors taking a tour thru the graveyard will note the funeral place of many historic figures along with scores of Confederate soldiers which make up much of Austin's precious background.

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