Washington DC

Washington DC, USA

Washington D.C., America's Capital City sits on the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. Designed by Pierre-Charles L'Enfant at the request of George Washington and located on land specifically set aside after the Revolutionary War to keep the Federal Government from being in a single state. The city has wide avenues, marble buildings, public squares and a magnificent public walk known as the National Mall. The District of Colombia is a City that can be easily explored with must-see sights including the White House, Capitol Building and the many Museums, Monuments and Memorials.

The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States. It has been the home of every president except George Washington. The White House Visitor Centre is situated nearby and has exceptional interactive exhibits, which show details about the White House and the presidential families. It includes furniture from past presidents, a model of the residence, historical changes and videos with insights from presidents about their time living there.

The United States is the Capitol Building is the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The giant dome was based on the dome of St. Peter's in Rome, standing out over all other Washington buildings. On one side is a marble terrace offering beautiful views over the Mall and the City. The interior is dazzling with frescoes, reliefs and paintings, especially the Rotunda under the great cast iron dome with a ceiling painting and huge paintings of scenes from American history on the walls. At the foot of Capitol Hill, the U.S. Botanic Garden is an oasis of tropical gardens, surrounded by outdoor gardens, the huge glasshouse is the hub of a museum of living plants.

The National Mall and Veterans Memorials with its expansive lawns and pools that form a wide greenbelt from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. It is the site of many of Washington's landmark buildings and monuments. Most prominent at its centre is the Washington Monument and War Memorials including veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a poignant wall inscribed with the names of all American servicemen and women who lost their lives or are missing, is one of Washington's most visited memorials. The Korean War Veterans Memorial contains 19 steel sculptures of soldiers.

The Lincoln Memorial stands at the far end of the Mall, separated from the Washington Monument by the Reflecting Pool. In the middle is a 19 foot marble statue of a seated and pensive President Abraham Lincoln surrounded by 36 columns, one for each of the states that existed at the time of Lincoln's death. There are painted murals on the inside walls showing important events in Lincoln's life. It was here that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from the memorial steps.

The Washington Monument is an icon of the National Mall and a beautiful sight, especially when mirrored in the long Reflecting Pool at its base. The base of the monument is surrounded by a circle of 50 American Flags and there is an elevator to the very top for stunning views over the Mall and Washington.

The Jefferson Memorial was designed based on the Roman Pantheon, its low dome is supported by 54 ionic columns. Inside, is a 19 foot statue of a standing Jefferson and around are engraved excerpts of the Declaration of Independence and other writings. The monument stands isolated at the far end of the Tidal Pool, which reflects the monument in its surface and all around the edge of the water are Cherry trees, a gift from Japan.

Arlington National Cemetery overlooks the city from across the Potomac River, filled with memorials to American history and the men and women who were part of it. Its best known landmarks are the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, President John F. Kennedy's gravesite and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial depicting the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima in World War II. The Welcome Centre has maps, information and exhibits telling the story of Arlington National Cemetery and its monuments. There is a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where the changing of the guards happens.

Georgetown Historic District is the city's oldest, dating back to the early 1700’s. Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Roman Catholic and Jesuit College, is located here. Today, Georgetown is full of historic homes, boutique shops, cafés, restaurants and small museums. The C&O Canal, the 184 mile waterway paralleling the Potomac River, begins here and its towpath makes for a great place to walk and cycle.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of American Art, representing more than 7,000 artists from the colonial era to the present. The collections record the curiosity of artists capturing the beauty of American landscapes as the nation expanded westward and the changing face of American cities and towns.

The National Portrait Gallery focuses on famous Americans, from the time of the first colonies to present day leaders and important public figures, including the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House.

The National Air and Space Museum is one of the world's most popular museums, with a collection of history making air and spacecraft that includes the original 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the first plane to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. More recent flight history is represented by the Apollo 11 command module, part of the first manned lunar landing mission. There is also the Albert Einstein Planetarium, an IMAX Theatre and the Public Observatory on the east terrace, where you can examine lunar craters and see planets and other astronomical features through telescopes.

Other Museums worth visiting include the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum located near the Smithsonian Museums, where documents, studies and interprets the history of the Holocaust with the dual purpose of memorialising the victims and helping the world to confront hatred and prevent genocide. The National Museum of African American History and Culture, focuses on the history, culture and community, the newest of the Smithsonian Museums explores changing definitions of American citizenship and equality, at the same time highlighting African American culture and that of the entire African diaspora and lastly the National Gallery of Art is one of the world's premier art museums.

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