5 free things in Austin, first photo to bat cave

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm •  Published: February 6, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Capital, the Live Music Capital of the World, the Velvet Crown, Bat City or simply River City. Residents of Austin claim many titles and are known for their slogan: "Keep Austin Weird." Some locals pejoratively call their hometown "festival city," since there seems to be one every weekend, such as South by Southwest or Austin City Limits Music Festival. But most festival-goers don't realize Austin is also home to the first photograph, a Gutenberg Bible and the world's largest urban bat colony. And the best thing for a city that prides itself on environmentalism is that all of the sites can be visited in a single day's walk, and all of them are free.

THE HARRY RANSOM CENTER

Begin the morning on the southwest corner of the University of Texas at Austin campus, home to one of the largest archives in the world. The HRC holds 42 million manuscripts, a million rare books and 5 million photographs. Just inside the front door, visitors can enter a kiosk where a Gutenberg Bible, one of the first printed books, is on display. In a dimly lit alcove nearby, the world's first photograph resides. The center holds regular multimedia exhibitions from the collection, with the one opening later this month titled, "World at War: 1914-1918."

THE TEXAS STATE CAPITOL

From the Ransom Center, walk southeast about nine blocks to the big pink dome. The Texas Capitol opened in 1885, built from pink granite quarried in the Texas Hill Country. The dome is 15 feet (4.6 meters) taller than the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, and it faces south, to show solidarity with the Confederacy. The interior is filled with famous paintings and statues, and the grounds are home to dozens of statues, the state archives, a visitor's center and the governor's mansion.

DOWNTOWN AUSTIN

The Capitol Complex sits at the north end of Congress Avenue, considered the main street of Texas. Walk south toward the lake, and just off Congress to the east, is the Sixth Street entertainment district, home to dozens of bars and restaurants. From Congress head west on Second Street, and find a series of sidewalk cafes, shopping and the Willie Nelson statue.

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