In a city brimming with history, the iconic command center for our nation, the everlasting tributes to generations of leaders and visionaries draw visitors from all over the world. While there is so much to see and participate in when visiting Washington DC, no one single attraction or site is quite as compelling as the monuments located throughout the city. Together they trace the history of the United States and celebrate those who shaped it from its earliest beginnings. Make sure to add these points of interest to your travel itinerary.
Perhaps one of the most famous of the DC monuments, the Washington Monument pays tribute to our nation’s fist commander in chief, George Washington. A world-renowned structure, the obelisk-shaped memorial sits in the center of the National Mall, in between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Made of marble, granite and bluestone gneiss, it’s the world’s tallest stone structure and the tallest obelisk, towering at 555 feet. No visit to DC is complete without viewing this most recognizable monument.
It’s hard to view this stunning work that is dedicated to the memory and achievements of Abraham Lincoln without feeling moved. The structure itself, a neoclassical masterpiece made of white stone and framed by 36 columns, is astonishingly beautiful. And once inside, the sight of the 19-foot tall statue of Lincoln sitting in contemplation is unforgettable to most visitors. Sitting at the west end of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial features inscriptions of the 16th President’s Second Inaugural Address, The Gettysburg Address, which is considered by many to be his most famous speech.
Located on the bank of the Potomac River Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial is recognizable by it’s dome-shaped roof, circular marble steps, circular colonnade and portico. Its design is notably similar to the University of Virginia rotunda, a structure that Jefferson designed. A 19-foot tall statue of Thomas Jefferson sits inside and is surrounded by excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, written by Jefferson and other founding fathers.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
This outdoor memorial is dedicated to the memory of our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It spans across 7 acres and is located in the West Potomac Park along the tidal basin. This unique memorial features four different outdoor “rooms,” each representing one term of his four in the office. FDR served as president from 1933 until he passed away in 1945 and governed the country through the depression and World War II. The memorial features famous FDR quotes and statues and murals showcasing events that took place during his presidency. Made out of South Dakota granite, it was the first memorial that was built to be wheelchair accessible and is the only presidential monument to include a special memorial to the First Lady. Eleanor is immortalized in bronze, standing next to the United Nations emblem.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Located near Constitution Gardens on the National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors those members of the United States armed forces who fought, those who lost their lives and those who were missing in action. There are three separate parts to the memorial, a Three Soldiers Statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The wall is split into two parts, each over 246 feet long, inscribed with more than 58,000 names.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Located on a four-acre stretch on the Tidal Basin, this striking memorial features a 30-foot statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. carved into the Stone of Hope, which juts out of two large boulders. A sight to see, the two boulders are made to represent the Mountain of Despair and are split in half to reveal the Stone of Hope. The text from his legendary “I have a Dream” speech is inscribed into the rock.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
A tribute to the armed forces that served and lost their lives during the Korean War, this memorial features 164-foot long by 8-foot thick walls that are sandblasted with images of US troops moving by air, sea and land. Steel soldiers representing each of the armed forces stand in the center of the memorial and each member of the UN that were a part of the war effort is featured on the United Nations Wall. A Pool of Remembrance lists the number of soldiers killed, wounded and lost in action. When viewed from above, this stunning monument takes on the shape of an isosceles triangle.
World War II Memorial
To honor the 16 million military personnel who served during World War II, this memorial on the National Mall features 56 granite columns to represent the unity between 48 states, seven federal territories and the District of Columbia.