What is the Capital of Virginia?

Richmond, Virginia, USA downtown skyline on the James River
Richmond, Virginia, USA downtown skyline on the James River

Virginia is a state on the Atlantic Coast of the U.S, centered on the line that divides the country into its northern and southern regions. Virginia is best known for the Appalachian Trail, wild ponies, Chesapeake Bay, and oysters. But what is Virginia’s capital?

Being one of the original 13 colonies, Virginia has had multiple capitals since the first settlers arrived in the area. The capital of the state today is Richmond, a city in the eastern part of the state. It has been the capital of Virginia since 1790.

This article will discuss what the capital of Virginia is. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about Richmond, the capital of Virginia.

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Where is the Capital of Virginia Located?

Where is the Capital of Virginia Located
Where is the Capital of Virginia Located

Virginia’s capital city is Richmond, located in the central-east portion of the state, around the area of the James River. It lies around 21 miles north of Petersburg and approximately 66 miles southeast of Charlottesville. It is the third largest metropolitan area in the state of Virginia.

Richmond is known for its beautiful canals, easy access to the River James and its abundance of exciting up-and-coming neighborhoods and nightlife spots. The city is also known for its history and role in the civil war, where you’ll find statues, museums, and cemeteries all commemorating the battle.

Brief History Of Richmond

Richmond, Virgina, USA downtown skyline.
Richmond, Virgina, USA downtown skyline.

The area surrounding Richmond and the broader Virginia state has been home to people for at least 17,000 years. While they left behind no written language, they did record their history through symbolic drawings and storytelling. 

Before the arrival of the English, Richmond was a strategic location on the River James for the Powhatan tribe. The Powhatans were members of a more extensive confederacy now known as the Algonquian empire. 

The Powhatan tribe was the strongest in the area, and their leader, Parahunt, occupied the capital on the high hills overlooking Richmond and the River James. In the surrounding area, they grew various crops such as beans, peas, wheat, pumpkins, hemp, tobacco, gourds, and flax. 

The modern village of Richmond was known to Powhatan as Shoquohocan or Shockoe. The English arrived in the area in 1607 on an exploration led by Christoper Newport and John Smith. They were initially welcomed by the Powhatans and spent some time learning what they could about the area before leaving a short time later.

The English were able to slowly colonize the area as they played into the ongoing rivalries between the Native American peoples. However, when the English tried to settle permanently in the area of Richmond in September 1609, they were harassed by the Native Amercians and were forced back to Jamestown.

By the year 1637, a trading post had been set up in the area by Thomas Stegg close to  the River James. After a Native American uprising was halted in the area in 1644, the English were able to take control of the area surrounding modern Richmond and went on to build Fort Charles in 1945.

In 1656, a combined army of Mahocks and Nahyssans, both Native American tribes, threatened the English and Powhatans living around Richmond. This led to the English and Powhatans joining forces, and a bloody battle ensued in Richmond.

William Byrd was the person who originally named the settlement Richmond in 1733. This was in honor of a place back in England. The town plan was drawn up after four years by Major William Mayo, a well-versed surveyor.

When did Richmond become the Capital of Virginia?

Virgina State Capital building in Richmond, Virginia
Virginia State Capital building in Richmond, Virginia

The original capital of the Virginia territory was Jamestown, which remained for almost a century. In favor of Williamsburg, the English colonists eventually abandoned Jamestown when the state house burned down in 1698.

During the 18th century, the government of Virginia again decided they wanted to move to the capital again, considering places such as Newcastle; however, this never came to fruition. Due to the breakout of the American Revolution, Williamsburg was announced as the capital of an independent Virginia commonwealth. This portrayed Virginia as a state rather than a colony. 

During the American Revolution, Richmond replaced Williamsburg as the state’s capital in 1780, which has remained for almost 250 years.

Why is Richmond the Capital of Virginia?

Richmond would eventually become the capital of Virginia in 1780, as the government of the confederacy used it as a way to promote Virginia’s new identity as a confederate state. 

Richmond was the home of three governments during the American Revolution, serving as the capital of the city, state, and confederate peoples. The city of Richmond was also chosen as it was in a centralized area and was easy to defend.

Best Places to visit in Richmond

Richmond, Virginia, is full of history and unique places to visit. Here are the five best things to do if you’re planning to visit this historical city.

1. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has something for everyone; you can marvel at nature, learn about plants, relax and have a picnic with your family, or even get married among some of Richmond’s best scenery. This botanical garden is a place not to be missed.

2. Virginia Museum Of Fine Arts

If you love to walk around museums full of fine art, then the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts should be at the top of your list. Enjoy more than 5,000 years of art worldwide, including statues, portraits, and everything in between.

3. Maymont

Maymont is an incredible 100-acre estate, gifted to the community by James and Sallie Dooley back in 1925. Enjoy a stroll in its many gardens, tour the mansion, watch the river go by, or spend some time with the goats on this great family day out.

 4. White House Of The Confederacy

The White House Of The Confederacy is a museum that follows the civil war from its early days right through its culmination. You can enjoy it yourself or hire a guide who will tell you anything you wish to know about this portion of the United States’ history.

5. Belle Isle

Belle Isle is a perfect day out for all of the family. It’s a preserved park that can be traversed by bike, walking, or hiking and even has some fantastic opportunities to rock climb. There are incredible wooded trails, historical sites, and even a place to fish, providing something for all ages.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!