Washington, DC is the capital city of the USA. It’s home to most of the national government buildings, but the city is a very pleasant one to visit. Most capital cities are hectic and basically too busy, but Washington has this calm feeling about it. The city was designed to be the capital, unlike London, so maybe that’s why. The parks and roads are all exactly where you need them to be, and the subway system is designed to deal with large amounts of people. For some, this is unpopular – they like the hustle and bustle of unplanned mega-cities. In case you’re wondering what the D.C. stands for, it’s “District of Colombia”. This is not properly a state, but the city doesn’t belong to a state, so it’s a bit complicated. Land was given up from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware to build the capital city on.
The most striking landmark on Washington DC’s skyline is the Capitol, America’s equivalent of the Houses of Parliament. The House of Representatives and the Senate have their chambers here, much like our Lords and Commons sit in the Palace of Westminster. The Capitol is at one end of the National Mall, a large, rectangular park. The Capitol also contains the US Declaration of Independence, among other artefacts and artworks. You can go inside the famous dome, which serves as the roof to one of the rooms in the Capitol. It’s all very interesting stuff.
Then, there’s the White House, where the President lives and sits! You can get tours, but if you don’t have much time, just staring at it from the National Mall works. Obviously, it’s very heavily guarded and there are many fences to stop you from climbing in, but if you can poke your camera through one of the holes you can get a pretty good picture.
So you’re probably wondering, why does everything in Washington centre around this National Mall? Well, as I said earlier, the city is a planned one. At one end of the National Mall is the Capitol, and at the other, the Lincoln Memorial. Abraham Lincoln was the American president who abolished slavery, and if you’ve seen the film “Lincoln” it gives you a pretty good overview of what he did. In the very centre of the Mall is the National Monument, a giant obelisk that points straight into the sky, one of the most distinctive objects on the DC skyline.
Along the sides of the Mall are the various buildings of the Smithsonian museum. If you’ve seen the second Night at the Museum film, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about! The Smithsonian is an absolutely massive museum organisation, with many buildings across the USA. In Washington, you can find the Air and Space museum, the Museum of American History, Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of the American Indian. You can’t visit all of these great museums, because they’re huge, so you’ll have to pick out 3 of your favourite ones to do in a day!
Across the Potomac River from the Mall is the Jefferson Memorial, a lovely circular building that commemorates Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. It’s a great place to round off your trip – watch the sun set over the river, and the city of Washington turning on its lights in preparation for the night ahead.
Image from: http://www.trolleytours.com/washington-dc/night-tours.asp