Washington Travel Guide


The United States Capitol is the nation's most familiar landmark. Begun in 1793, it is the seat of the legislative branch of the national government which has houses the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world and stands as a monument n to the American people and their government. It is located on Capitol Hill on the eastern terminus of the National Mall. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible to the United States Congress for the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of the United States Capitol Complex, which includes the Capitol, the congressional office buildings, the Library of Congress buildings, the Supreme Court building, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Capitol Power Plant, and other facilities. The Capitol is open to the public for guided tours only, Monday through Saturday.

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation wields serious power. Officially named the J Edgar Hoover FBI Building (after the notorious director who made the FBI the crime-fighting bureaucracy it is today), the Bureau's headquarters are at 10th and Pennsylvania NW.

Library of Congress
The world's largest library with almost 110 million items in three buildings. The James Madison Building houses one of the world's three perfect vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible and changing exhibits. Public tours are available; call (202) 707-8000 for details. The Main Reading Room and the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building can be seen only on the public tour. A 22-minute video is shown every half-hour in LM-139 of the Madison Building. The best part of the library is the 1897 Jefferson Building, with its vaulted ceilings and ornate decoration. Two modern annexes are nearby. The library screens free classic films, and occasionally concerts are given using the library's five Stradivarius violins.

Lincoln Memorial
This grand memorial overlooks the Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol. It is located on 107 acres in Potomac Park. The memorial was built 1914–17. The building was designed by Henry Bacon and styled after a Greek temple. It has 36 Doric columns representing the states of the Union at the time of Lincoln's death. Inside the building is a 19-foot marble statue of the 16th president by Daniel Chester French and two murals by Jules Guerinnside and inscriptions of his Second Inaugural Address and the famous Gettysburg Address.

Smithsonian Institution
The world's largest museum and research complex is actually comprised of 15 specialty museums, and other affiliates, with subjects that vary from African Art to the postal service, sculpture to space exploration.
Known as the Castle, the oldest of the 14 Smithsonian museums in Washington houses the crypt of founder James Smithson, 2 orientation theaters, scale models of Washington's monumental core, interactive touch-screen program in 6 languages, 2 electronic wall maps, plus multilingual information and assistance. Walk-in tours Friday-Sunday; Spanish language tours the first Saturday of each month.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, recognizes and honors the men and women who served in one of America's most divisive wars, The Vietnam War. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial consists of three main elements, the Memorilal Wall desugned by Maya Ying Lin, the first part of the memorial to be erected, was dedicated November 13, 1982. It includes the inscribed names of the 58,245 American soldiers who died in the conflict. and those missing in action.. Also part of the memorial are the Three Servicemen Statue, by Fredrick Hart, and the Vietnam Women's Memorial designed by Glenna Goodacre which were added in years subsequent to the memorials dedication. Since its opening in 1982, this tribute to those who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War, is the most visited of our national monuments.

Korean War Veterans Memorial
Built at a cost of $18 million in donated funds, this powerful memorial, located on a 2.2-acre site adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, features a sculptured column of 19 foot soldiers arrayed for combat, with the American flag as their symbolic objective. A 164-foot mural wall is inscribed with the words, "Freedom Is Not Free" and is etched with 2,500 photographic images of nurses, chaplains, crew chiefs, mechanics and other support personnel to symbolize the vast effort that sustained the military operation.

Washington Monument
Prominent 555-foot-high classical obelisk where visitors are whisked by elevator to an observation deck for spectacular views of America's capital. The project was derailed by antipapists who opposed Pope Pius IX's contributions, then the Civil War interrupted. There's an elevator ride to the top, and you can walk back down a staircase lined with plaques from all the states, plus one from the Cherokee Nation.

White House
Home to every president of the United States since John Adams, was originally constructed 1792-1800. Designed by James Hoban, it is significant for its Federal architecture. It was reconstructed in 1815 after being burned by British soldiers during the War of 1812. The exterior of the main structure, remains much as it was in 1800 with the exception of some additions and minor changes. During the Truman administration the interior was completely renovated using the historic floor plan.

America's largest national burial ground with more than 600 acres of landscaped hills. Among the thousands of white headstones are the graves of President John Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, world champion boxer Joe Louis, America's most decorated soldier, Audie Murphy and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The cemetery sets upon the site of the Custis-Lee estate (Arlington House) the home of Robert E. Lee at the time of the outbreak of the civil war.

Great Falls National Park
At its Great Falls, the Potomac River plunges seventy-six feet through a deep gorge. In 1785, George Washington formed the Patowmack Company to built a canal and locks for navigation around the falls, to facilitate commerce to the Ohio country frontier. Some of the canal and a lock have been preserved and can be viewed. The ruins of Matildaville, a small eighteenth-century village associated with the hoped of commercial success of the canal, are also visible. Ruins are located in Great Falls Park which is owned and operated by the National Park Service. Free admission but parking fee. This 800-acre park has views of the falls, 15 miles of hiking trails, and 5 miles of trails for horseback and biking. Ranger guided walks. Picnic facilities.

Alexandria Archaeology Museum
The museum displays archaeological artifacts from excavations in Alexandria. The collection dates back to 3000 B.C. There is also a library on site.

The Pentagon
The Pentagon, located in Arlington, VA serves as the headquarters of the Department of Defense. It is one of the world's largest office buildings, housing approximately 23,000 employees, The building was completed on January 15, 1943 after only 16 months of construction.

National World War II Memorial
The National World War II Memorial, located on the National Mall in Washington, DC commemorates the sacrifice and celebrates the victory of the WWII generation. The World War II Memorial creates a distinct, evocative and serene tribute yet remains respectful and sensitive to its historic surroundings. The memorial designed by Friedrich St.Florian opened on April 29 29th, 2004.

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