Finally I get to the capital of this place

Washington Travel Blog

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The capitol in Washington - they are preparring for the inagruation ceromony already

I got a bit of a strange relationship with capitals around the world. In Europe I have never been to a country without going to the capital - and in many countries in Europe I have actually been nowhere but the capital. But when it comes to countries outside Europe I frequently have never been to the capital. The same is true for the USA on my previous visit to the states I have never been to Washington - and even on this visit I am postponing the visit to the capital to the very in of the visit. But today is the day - I will finally go to the illustrious capital of USA.

 

The capital is not like any other American city I have ever been to.

Looking towards Washington monument from the US capitol
It is not a charming city like San Francisco or New Orleans - it is not the like the madness of LA or like the impressive city of New York. It is very different mainly because it is build to impress the visitors. New York may be more impressive with all the tall buildings downtown - but it is sort of impressive by accident. In Washington you got a city which in the original plan is design to impress you - and it manages to do just that.

 

I start the day by taking the metro to the first stop the south capitol metro station - the closest stop to the Capitol Hill - home of the US congress. I book a ticket for a free tour of the capitol but unfortunately it is not for another 1½ hour or so - hence I need to find something to do in the mean time. I start by walking around the Capitol which is a bit of a walk around the hill even though it seems pretty short. Walking around the hill I get my first real idea of the design of the city when I walk down and look along the National Mall with its massive grassy lane and all the big buildings along it housing many museums which for the min part is absolutely free for the visitor - even though they are the home to some of the best collections in the world.

The US supreme court

 

I keep walking around the capitol and next to the capitol there is several big office buildings which seems to be build in sort of the same still as the original design of the city - but all these buildings is a lot younger than the capitol building which used to house all of the members of congress and their staff. The housing of the staff in the old days was quite easy - given the ordinary members of the house and the senate did not have any staffers at all. Not like today where even an ordinary member of the house in an unknown district in Michigan will have a big personal staff.

 

Behind the capitol on the side away from the National Mall there is some pretty impressive buildings - the US Supreme Court which also seems like a pretty old building but it is actually not even a hundred years old yet.

The seat of the president of the us senate in the old senate chamber
Next to the Supreme Court you’ll find one of the most beautiful buildings not only in Washington but in all of the US - the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress building. I go in to the building to have a quick look around it and see the big hall with all the interior decorations. You don’t really see many books in there only a few really rare books like the Guttenberg Bible.

 

Time pass and it is about time for my tour of the capitol building where I get in and have a tour around the big building having a bit of a look around on the arts in side and listening to the guide telling a bit of the history of the building. After the tour of the building I start a bit of a walk down the National Mall there is a lot of place I could go in but I figure the most interesting of the museums would be the Air and Space Museum with the old famous planes and space vehicles.

The centre of washington - the plaque marking the spot all of the city radiates around
I actually only wants to spend a short time in there but the place is pretty interesting hence I end up spending a lot more time in the place than expected to see a few of the famous planes like the Spirit of St Louis and Glamorous Glennis.

 

After the visit to the Air and Space museum I continue my walk down the National Mall and on the road down I see how you do lawn improvement in Washington - you drive a small truck around the place distributing a bit of dirt to make it more level - it looks highly unlikely for this process to have the desired effect. Somewhat puzzled by what he was trying to achieve I walk on and get to the central point of the National Mall - the Washington Monument - it is far from the most significant monument in the City and considering the impressive monument to Lincoln and Jefferson you can wonder why the first of the presidents have not gotten a more impressive monument - but then again the whole city is named in his honour.

Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress building
Just like the Soviet Union used to name their cities after their leaders Lenin and Stalin.

 

Well considering how little I have been walking during the day I am a bit surprised what time it is by now. And I head down the cross street to the National Mall to go to the most famous house in the world - Pennsylvania Avenue 1600 aka the White House. Around the White House there is a lot of security - well actually there is a lot of security all over Washington but it is more pronounced around the White House. Compared to the Capitol Hill the White House is not nearly as impressive. I walk back from the White House to walk along the National Mall down towards the Potomac River. This second half of the National Mall after the Washington Monument is dedicated to monuments for all the wars the US have fought abroad. The first you encounter is a fairly new monument to the Second World War. This was dedicated by President Bush in 2004. The monument is next to the main feature of this area the reflection pool which is a long narrow pool of water stretching from the WW II monument to the Lincoln Monument.

Now what is the name of this place?

 

The area between the reflection pool and the street is actually a surprisingly peaceful area with a bit of nature appearing to have gotten a foothold in the middle of the city. You will see a few birds swimming on the lakes in the area and chipmunks running around searching for food.  A little bit further down you will get to the Vietnam Memorial a big piece of black marble with all the names of the fallen American soldiers during this war. This is also the most visited monument of all the war memorials not so much because of the size of the monument but probably because of the recent history of the Vietnam War which mean a lot of people will have relatives who fought in this war.

 

Down at the end of the reflection pool is the giant Lincoln Monument with the huge statue of Lincoln at this site it you will get a great view down the reflection pool towards the Washington Monument.

Down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over the Reflection Pool towards the Washington Monument
And the reflection pool does create a lot of reflections of the Washington Monument creating a special double column.

 

After Lincoln Monument I sort of need to go down and see one final monument even though it is starting to get dark - The Thomas Jefferson Monument. I really cannot go to Washington without seeing the monument to this president. I walk down along a big lake - the tidal lake. And around this lake I realize the city planners made a terrible mistake when they design the city. Because along the lake there is a lot of ancient fruit trees from an old orchard and these trees can several branches hanging down making it impossible to walk upright around the tidal lake. Which idiot planners build a city without clearing the ground for these annoying cherry trees? I need to find the city management and complain about these trees. Miraculously I manage to walk around the tidal lake without any major head injury caused by the hanging branches.

Looking out across the Reflection Pool towards the Washington Monument at night

 

Just before I get to the Jefferson memorial I see a tiny memorial and have a look - there is a little monument for Mason nice little spot that I never heard about before and would never have taken the walk around the lake just to visit this little place - but hey now I am here so I might as well take a short look at it. Then finally I get to my destination - and there he is Thomas Jefferson standing high in the middle of the room towering on his small pedestal with some of his most famous words around him.

 

It is getting late now - and I have to get some dinner but it got to be a fairly quick dinner because I wanna see this city in the dark with the lights coming out on the monuments so I can get a quick look at them in the dark. And a tour of Washington by night is quite interesting with some advantages - like no traffic and lots of parking spaces.

Looking towards Washington monument from the US capitol

David says:
I still need to make it out here.
Posted on: Dec 08, 2008
Adrian_Liston says:
I really enjoyed this post, thank you :)
Posted on: Dec 05, 2008
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The capitol in Washington - they a…
The capitol in Washington - they …
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The capitol from the pool infront…
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Looking towards Washington monume…
The US supreme court
The US supreme court
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The centre of washington - the pla…
The centre of washington - the pl…
Thomas Jefferson Library of Congre…
Thomas Jefferson Library of Congr…
Now what is the name of this place?
Now what is the name of this place?
Down the steps of the Lincoln Memo…
Down the steps of the Lincoln Mem…
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Looking out across the Reflection…
Looking towards Washington monumen…
Looking towards Washington monume…
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Statue at the circle just next to…
Office building serving the capitol
Office building serving the capitol
Office building serving the capitol
Office building serving the capitol
Office building serving the capitol
Office building serving the capitol
The US supreme court
The US supreme court
Jefferson building
Jefferson building
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The capitol from the stairs of th…
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More buildings surrounding the ca…
More buildings surrounding the cap…
More buildings surrounding the ca…
More buildings surrounding the cap…
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The doem of the capitol
Osage Orange tree next to the capi…
Osage Orange tree next to the cap…
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Osage orange fruits falling down …
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Looking towards the Washington Mo…
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Paintings in the hall with the dome
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Statue of Lincoln in the main hal…
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The dome of the capitol
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The dome of the capitol - closer …
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The dome of the capitol - very cl…
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The reliefs on the dome of the ca…
Signing the declaration of indepen…
Signing the declaration of indepe…
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Accepting the surrender of the Br…
Samller hall in the capitol buildi…
Samller hall in the capitol build…
The seat of the president of the u…
The seat of the president of the …
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The eagle on top of the seat of t…
The old US senate chamber
The old US senate chamber
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Old House of Representatives meet…
Old House of Representatives meeti…
Old House of Representatives meet…
Old House of Representatives meeti…
Old House of Representatives meet…
Old House of Representatives meeti…
Old House of Representatives meet…
The old supreme court
The old supreme court
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Halls under the main flour of the…
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Paintings on the sealing of the h…
Joint commity meeting room
Joint commity meeting room
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Ready to make a painting of some …
And old historic achivement
And old historic achivement
Door in the capitol building
Door in the capitol building
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Paintings in the halls
Paintings in the halls
Paintings in the halls
Paintings in the halls
Paintings in the halls
Paintings in the halls
Paintings in the halls
Supreme court building
Supreme court building
Supreme court building
Supreme court building
The Capitol
The Capitol
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The dome of the Capitol
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Museums along the National Mall
Museums along the National Mall
Museums along the National Mall
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Looking down the National Mall to…
The Smithsonia palace
The Smithsonia palace
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I think I seen this house before …
The old excecutive office building
The old excecutive office building
The league of american nations (or…
The league of american nations (o…
The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument
The WW II monument
The WW II monument
The WW II monument
The WW II monument
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Small lake next to the reflection…
Small lake next to the reflection …
Small lake next to the reflection…
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Ducks next to the lake
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more wildlife around the lake area
more wildlife around the lake area
more wildlife around the lake area
The Vietnam War Memorial
The Vietnam War Memorial
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The Vietnam War Memorial - with a…
The Vietnam War Memorial - with al…
The Vietnam War Memorial - with a…
The Gettysburg Adress in the Linco…
The Gettysburg Adress in the Linc…
Down the steps of the Lincoln Memo…
Down the steps of the Lincoln Mem…
The Reflection Pool
The Reflection Pool
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial across the …
The Jefferson Memorial across the…
The Madison Memorial
The Madison Memorial
The Madison Memorial
The Madison Memorial
The Madison Memorial
The Madison Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
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The Statue of Thomas Jefferson in…
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The Jefferson Memorial in the fad…
Wild life in Washington sittin at …
Wild life in Washington sittin at…
Wild life in Washington sittin at …
Wild life in Washington sittin at…
Friedship gate marking the entranc…
Friedship gate marking the entran…
The Washington Memorial at night
The Washington Memorial at night
The Capitol at night
The Capitol at night
Lincoln at night
Lincoln at night
Looking out across the Reflection …
Looking out across the Reflection…
Looking out across the Reflection …
Looking out across the Reflection…
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photo by: b93sp