Seeing the Monuments: Washington DC

Washington Monument

“We’ll spend a few hours in the morning seeing the monuments”

Famous last words, seven hours later and fairly sure I had permanently injured my feet we staggered back to our hotel in Washington D.C. Turns out our map wasn’t to scale, I’m yet to let my friend forget it!

Being in Washington D.C there are so many iconic sites to see. Whether you know them from watching too many American movies or from a thorough knowledge of American history (mine is more from the former), there are things to recognize all over the city.

The National Mall was the main attraction for the day but we started by heading to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. That’s the white marble building with the dome roof and with the big black statue of the main himself standing regally inside. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence which is inscribed across the walls inside in big letters – National Treasure anyone? The National Mall itself runs east west from Lincoln to Capitol Hill, Jefferson to the south of the mall is directly in line with the White House to the north.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

But before walking the length of the Mall we headed over the bridge running across the Potomac River to Arlington National Cemetery. It’s huge and the sheer number of identical white headstones representing individual lives lost for their country is powerful. Voices are hushed and even the air felt stiller as we walked a small loop through the cemetery – at one point we could hear a 21 gun salute break the air.

Arlington National Cemetery

At this point it was lunchtime and we were beginning to understand how much we had underestimated this self guided walking tour. We briefly stopped for a hot dog and then onto the Lincoln Memorial. The massive statue of Lincoln dedicated the America’s 16th president, shows him sitting and surveying his subjects.

Lincoln Memorial

From Lincoln we walked past the Reflecting Pool contemplating Martin Luther King Junior marching for equality, saw the National WWII Memorial and the Washington Monument and then took a detour up to see the White House. I believe it’s possible to get tours inside but as foreigners we would have to inquire through our embassy in Washington, too hard. We got to see the lawns and the outside of the house where some of the most important conversations in the world must happen.

White House

The final stop of the day was Capitol Hill. We continued walking the rest of the National Mall, past the museums of the Smithsonian (don’t worry we came back to visit those the nest day, read that here) up to the United States Capital building. The building was so much bigger then we were expecting and dominates city views, it was spectacular to watch the sunset turn the white marble shades of orange and purple.

United States Capital

So after seven hours and over 10 miles/16 kilometers we dragged ourselves back to the hotel and ordered a steak.

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