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Best Landmarks in Washington DC

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This basilica, one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in the Western Hemisphere, was dedicated in 1959. The architecture of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a mix of Romanesque and Byzantine styles. The Great Upper Church boasts fantastic mosaics, stained glass windows and individual chapels. The lower level Crypt Church is smaller and darker, but equally impressive in atmosphere and ornamentation. The basilica has a bookstore, gift shop and cafeteria.

The Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of the soldiers who gave their lives in service to the country. Two of America's former presidents, John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft are buried here. The crew of the Challenger space shuttle, civil rights leader Medgar Evers and film star Audie Murphy are among the many honored here. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, containing remains of unidentified soldiers from World Wars I, II, and the Korean War, are protected by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment or the Old Guard 24 hours a day. The changing of the guard ceremony is a moving tribute to them.

Part of the original design for the federal city, this massive park stretches from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. It has played host to many momentous, world-changing events throughout history including the 1963 March on Washington, the Million Man March and several presidential inaugurations. Today, the National Mall serves as a place for reflection, a memorial to American heroes, a symbol of freedom and a forum for the exercise of democracy. The Smithsonian museums, the Vietnam Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the iconic Washington Monument are a few of the most well-known of the National Mall's many iconic sites. Certainly, any visit to Washington DC should start with a tour of the United States National Mall, aptly named "America's front yard."

Located at the west end of the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial is one of the principal landmarks of Washington DC, its stately form overlooking the Reflecting Pool, a gleaming stretch of water that lays sprawled before its base. Daniel Chester French's 19-foot (5.7-meter) statue of Lincoln, seated and deep in thought, watches over the nation he helped create, alongside the carved text of the Gettysburg Address, providing a glimpse into a weighty period of American history. The memorial itself draws inspiration from the Greek architectural style, its 36 Doric columns representative of the number of states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death. Surrounded by greenery, on the banks of the Potomac River, the Lincoln Memorial makes for a soul-stirring, picturesque sight; a fitting ode to one of the nation's most revered Presidents.

The symbol of the city of Washington DC, this 555-foot (169-meter) marble obelisk on the National Mall honors the nation's first president, George Washington. The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid in 1848, but construction was not completed until 1884. About one-third of the way up the obelisk is a visible change in the marble, evidence of the onset of the Civil War. Construction was halted during the war, and when the builders returned to the same quarry to complete the project afterward, enough time had passed to cause a significant change in the color. An emblem of the United States and an icon of the nation, the Washington Monument is a moving sight, its elegant form mirrored in the Reflecting Pool of the Lincoln Monument nearby.

The image of five marines and a navy corpsman raising an American flag atop Mount Suribachi during World War II is known to every American schoolchild. Seen in person, the bronze 78-foot (23.77 meters) statue is sure to stir emotions. The sculpture near Arlington National Cemetery, commemorates the 6,800 soldiers who were martyred during World War II in order to capture the tiny Japanese island of Iwo Jima. Today, the memorial is dedicated to all U.S. Marines who died lsot their lives on battlefields. A Marine Parade is held at 7p Tuesdays throughout the summer.

A frequent site of nationally significant memorial services, the National Cathedral is open to worshipers of all denominations. Under construction for most of the 20th Century and completed and consecrated in 1990, this Gothic cathedral is Washington D.C.'s fourth-tallest structure. Flying buttresses, gargoyles, crypts, a 98-foot (30-meter) vaulted ceiling and intimate chapels contribute to this architectural masterpiece. The grounds invite exploration with curving walkways, well-kept hedges and spacious lawns.

Franciscan Monastery, a century-old monastery is one of Washington DC's hidden delights. The garden, set on a hillside and reached by winding paths, is full of big trees and places to sit quietly among the flowers and small outdoor shrines. The public is allowed to view the upper church's full-scale replicas of Holy Land shrines. In the lower church, visitors will find a replica of the Roman catacombs, which can only be seen on scheduled tours. Guided tours last about 45 minutes.

President Wilson lived in this Georgian-Revival house after he left office, creating a comfortable, unpretentious residence with his second wife, Edith. He is the only president to remain in Washington after office. The couple collected items from all over the world, filling their home with eclectic wares. There is a baseball signed by Great Britain's King George V and a silent movie projector given to the Wilsons by the actor Douglas Fairbanks. The bedroom is modeled after the couple's White House sleeping quarters.

Established on May 29, 2004, the World War II Memorial is the first national memorial to honor the American troops who fought in the war. The design by architect Friedrich St. Florian marks the Pacific and European Theaters of World War II with magnificent arches and remembers the Americans who died with 4,048 stars along the Freedom Wall. It is located on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled in 1982, as a tribute to the 58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War or remain missing in action. Maya Ying Lin may have been no more than a 21-year-old graduate student when she won the design contest for this memorial, but her work is now etched in the memories of countless visitors who have walked along this black granite wall filled with names.

One of Washington's newest memorials, the Korean War Veterans Memorial pays tribute to the many who fought in the Korean War. Located near the Lincoln Memorial, this monument features statues of 19 soldiers carefully making their way through unknown terrain. Photographic images on a 164-foot granite wall pays tribute to the thousands of others who contributed to the war; nurses, mechanics, crew chiefs and support personnel. Inscribed on the wall are the words: "Freedom Is Not Free."

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