Washington, D.C. is more than just the capital of the United States. The beautiful city on the American East Coast is a living history book full of historical treasures just waiting to be explored. Learn more about the place where world politics are discussed, take a stroll along the Potomac River, and follow in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers. To help you organise your visit, we’ve put together a list of the most interesting historical sights not to be missed.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW - you can’t visit D.C. and not stop by at the White House. Since 1800, it has been the official residence of every American president. The White House was built between 1792 and 1800, and people from all over the world will immediately recognise the white sandstone and Neoclassical architecture. It’s possible to take a tour but places are very limited and need to be booked in advance.
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial, on the western end of the National Mall, was built in honour of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Its construction took eight years and it was finally finished in 1922. The memorial is one of the most famous sights in D.C. with approximately 6 million visitors coming here every year. Since the 1930’s, it’s also gained a reputation of being a symbolic centre for race relations, with one of the most famous events connected to the memorial being the iconic “I have a dream" speech by Martin Luther King. King stood on the landing eighteen steps below the Lincoln statue and keen observers will be able to spot an engraving that marks the spot.
The Arlington House
Just outside of D.C. in Arlington, Virginia, you’ll find the Arlington House - known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial. The house is very closely linked with several key figures and events in American history, and was formerly the residence of Robert E. Lee and his family. Lee is famous for being the general of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and even to this day he is celebrated for his tactical brilliance. The house is currently being renovated to allow visitors to see what it would have looked like in 1860.
The Willard Hotel
Just a stone's throw away from the White House, you’ll find the Willard Hotel at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. This building is where history is made. It has been frequented by politicians, heads of state, celebrities and other famous guests from Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg, to Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln.
On the top of Capitol Hill sits the U.S. Capitol, the seat of the United States Congress. The building was first completed in 1800 but later additions were made including the iconic dome. The five-storey building has 540 rooms and visitors get the chance to take a look at some of them when joining one of the guided tours.
Washington National Cathedral
After suffering substantial damage at the hands of the Virginia Earthquake in 2011, the Washington National Cathedral was forced into major repair and reconstruction to maintain as much of the old build as possible. But after fundraising to help pay for the work, it is now open again and offers visitors a sight into one of the USA's finest religious buildings. Although there is still work to be done, the Gothic inspired design and mesmerising glass-stained windows still make it well-worth a visit.
With a rich cultural heritage dating back to the American Indians, Rock Creek offers a great insight into the history of Washington, D.C. The natural park underwent a drastic transformation in the 17th and early 18th century when Europeans took the deeds to the land – however the modern day area is much more laid back and tranquil, much like its original state. Rock Creek is also home to an endangered amphipod in Hay’s Springs, as well as a variety of other plants and animals to create the landscape for this fantastic urban park.
The American capital is without a doubt one of the most historical cities in the United States. Visitors get to choose between a great variety of sights and attractions and to see them all, you can easily get around by car in Washington, D.C.