Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains, Virginia (or the Commonwealth of Virginia) holds some of North America's most prosperous culture and history. Virginia's capital city is Richmond, which took the name after Jamestown and Williamsburg attempted to hold the title first.
Richmond is home to the oldest elected legislative body in the country, the Virginia General Assembly, created in 1619 as the House of Burgesses. The capital city lies on the gorgeous James River and offers plenty of activities for visitors.
Brief History of Virginia
The entire history of the state of Virginia could be read in scholarly articles and many, many books. But here, we will try to do justice in a few short paragraphs. We must first acknowledge that the land we call Virginia is home to a plethora of Indigenous tribes -- you can check this map out to find specifics.
As one of the original thirteen colonies during the American Revolution, Virginia would soon be split into two opposing forces during the American Civil War. While the state government joined the Confederacy, many western counties remained loyal to the Union, eventually creating West Virginia in 1863.
What is the Capital of Virginia?
Richmond is the state capital city of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau formulated the capitol building. It was inspired by the Maison Carrée, a Roman temple in Nîmes. The current State Capitol Building is the 8th built, as many fires burned previous ones down in the Colonial period. In 1960, the Virginia State Capitol became a National Historic Landmark (according to Wikipedia).
The Fall of the Confederacy
This building was the Capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War (behind the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery). In April of 1965, Lynchburg served as the state's capital under Gov. William Smith between Richmond and the fall of the Confederacy. Recently in July of 2020, the city ordered the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee, the busts of J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and other Confederate icons.
Reasons to Visit Richmond, The Capital of Virginia
Playing such a huge part in the Revolutionary War, Richmond features endless public buildings that have been converted to incredible museums that house the history of the state of Virginia. The most visited museums include the American Civil War Museum, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, the Virginia House: Museum of Fine Arts, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, and The Poe Museum.
As far as nature and outdoor recreation are concerned, visitors and resident Virginians have many exciting options to choose from. The James River Park system is home to many parks and riverside areas. Some favorites to check out include the famous Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Powhite Park, Maymont, Belle Isle, and Bryan Park (home to a historic African American slave uprising).
3. Historic Sites
Richmond has no shortage of historical sites to see while traveling in the area. Every Sunday at St. John's Church, visitors can witness a reenactment of former Governor of Virginia Patrick Henry's famous "give me liberty or give me death" speech he performed in 1775. Other notable stops include the College of William and Mary and the Washington Monument, where the statue of George Washington, the first President of the United States, is located in Capitol Square.
4. Virginia State Capitol
Capitol Square is where the majority of the historical attractions in the city are found, including the State Capitol Building. As far as the state government and legislators are concerned, the east wing holds the House of Delegates, and the west wing contains the Senate. The State Capitol Building is one of only 12 countries without an external dome (rotunda). Be sure to take a tour of this National Historic Landmark on your visit to Richmond.
While not directly in Richmond, other incredible sites to see are a short road trip away, including Chesapeake Bay, Yorktown, and Pocahontas, Virginia.