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Sightseeing in Washington Dc

Delve deep into what makes Washington DC tick. Begin at the Capitol Hill with the impressive U.S Capitol, the grand domed monument in marble signifying the seat of power in the country. Since George Washington laid the cornerstone in 1793, the U.S Capitol has grown to incorporate several majestic halls and chambers with exquisite art and sculpture. Present identification for a pass (if you are a foreigner) or ask your representative for a pass (if you are an American citizen) to take a tour inside the Capitol.

Across the street from the Capitol is the Supreme Court, housed in a grand Corinthian edifice since 1935 when it moved out of the U.S Capitol. You can take a tour of the courtroom and if you so desire, hear out a case or two.

For the world's largest library, look no further than the Library of Congress with over 115 million books, films, prints, maps, manuscripts, microfilm rolls, photographs, all which are stacked on shelves which run into over six hundred miles! If that is not enough to make your jaw drop, drool over the plush Thomas Jefferson Building with its lovely reading room and extensive art collection. Shakespeare enthusiasts should not miss the Fogler Shakespeare Library here.

Washington DC is also known for its world-class museums, many of which conveniently are located around the Mall, the green lung of the city. The Smithsonian Institution with some of the best museums in the world was begun with an endowment from British scientist James Smithson, who incidentally never visited America but was keen to support an institution for "the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men". The Smithsonian Castle, the oldest Smithsonian building today houses the Smithsonian Information Center from where you can pick up details of the museums and special events. Take in the comprehensive and astounding collections in each of the Smithsonian museums -- the National Air and Space Museum, the Freer Gallery of Art, the National Gallery of Art with its two striking buildings, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Hirshhorm Museum and Sculpture Garden. Truly, these venerable institution live up to their founder's dream - you will walk away enriched with the knowledge of things not known before!

The chilling U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum lies to the south of the Mall and is a potent reminder of how cruel humans can be. For avaricious souls, a visit to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a little further away, is the stuff dreams are made of - millions of dollars are printed here daily.

Washington's reputation as the city of monuments is well deserved. There are plenty of monuments here, distinctive in their striking blend of history, memory and mood. The memorials to former presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson on the banks of the Potomac are remarkable for the way in which the personalities of these great leaders are evoked through the appropriate architecture features and sculptures in them. At the Lincoln Memorial, the pensive statue of Lincoln gazes at the Reflecting Pool while the FDR memorial has large bronze sculptures with four outdoor gallery rooms symbolising his four terms in office. The Jefferson Memorial based on Monticello, his country home is a classic structure with one large bronze statue of the great president, also the author of the Declaration of Independence. The other memorials here are the stark and poignant Vietnam Veterans memorial designed by architecture student Maya Lin, the Vietnam Women's Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial with its striking stainless steel statues of combat troops. The Washington Monument dedicated to the country's first president is an impressive obelisk, which is currently being renovated.

For many, the highlight of a trip to Washington DC is to visit the White House! If like the many others queuing up outside, you too want to smell the heady scent of power and success and see how the world's most powerful leader lives and works, join the frequent tours through the public areas of the White House. Be sure to get yourself photographed -- or how else are you going to tell the folks back home. Close by, Lafayette Square has several historic homes and boasts of the St. John's Episcopal Church, popularly referred to as the Church of the Presidents.

Downtown Washington boasts of attractions such as the Smithsonian National Buildings Museum, National Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery, the National Archives, the FBI headquarters, the Ford Theater where president Lincoln was assassinated and the National Museum of Women in Art.

Washington DC has plenty of interesting neighborhoods for you to explore -- Georgetown with its historic homes, excellent galleries and the acclaimed Georgetown University, the first Catholic higher education center in the country. Dupont Circle is the embassy district as well as a major artistic enclave -- the Art Gallery District has plenty of interesting stuff on display but the most spectacular art collection is on view at the Phillips collection, the first permanent modern art museum in the country.

Other not-to-be missed attractions in the city are the Washington National Zoo Park, the Washington National Cathedral where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last sermon, the Corcoran Gallery of Art with American and European art, the historic Octagon house which is actually six-sided, the Treasury Building and the Washington Navy Yard.

What better way to complete your tour of this great city, than by visiting two very special places unique to Washington DC. They are the poignant Arlington National Cemetery where soldiers and prominent Americans like the Kennedys are buried and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S military, depicted in countless Hollywood movies with great artistic liberty.


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