Top Historic Sights in Washington, D.C., United States

Explore the historic highlights of Washington, D.C.

National World War II Memorial

The World War II Memorial is dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. Consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of small triumphal arches surrounding a plaza and fountain, it sits on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The memorial was d ...
Founded: 2004 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

White House

The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. It has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia Creek sandstone in the Neoclassical style. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) a ...
Founded: 1792-1829 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. The architect was Henry Bacon and the designer of the primary statue was Daniel Chester French. Dedicated in 1922, it is one of several monuments built to honor an American president. I ...
Founded: 1914–1922 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington, once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first American president. Located almost due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, the monument, made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss, is both the world"s tallest stone structure and the world"s tallest obelisk (16 ...
Founded: 1848-1888 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Smithsonian Institution Building

The Smithsonian Institution Building is constructed of Seneca red sandstone in the faux Norman style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs; built in the Gothic and Romanesque revival styles) and is nicknamed The Castle. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. A statue of Joseph Henry is displayed in front of the building. The Castle was the first Smithsonian building, desi ...
Founded: 1847-1855 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

United States Capitol

The United States Capitol is the seat of the United States Congress. It sits atop Capitol Hill, at the eastern end of the National Mall. Though not at the geographic center of the Federal District, the Capitol forms the origin point for the District"s street-numbering system and the District"s four quadrants. The original building was completed in 1800 and was subsequently expanded, particularly with the additi ...
Founded: 1793-1800 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art, from the colonial period to the present, made in the United States. The museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection, which contains the largest collection of New Deal art; a collection of contemporary craft, American impressionist paintings, and masterpieces from the Gilded Age; photography, moder ...
Founded: 1829 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art, and its attached Sculpture Garden, is one of the largest museums in North America. Open to the public and free of charge, the museum was privately established in 1937 for the American people by a joint resolution of the United States Congress. Andrew W. Mellon donated a substantial art collection and funds for construction. The Gallery's collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, ...
Founded: 1937 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

National Theatre

The National Theatre is located in Washington, D.C., and is a venue for a variety of live stage productions with seating for 1,676. Despite its name, it is not a governmentally funded national theatre, but operated by a private, non-profit organization. This historic playhouse was founded on December 7, 1835, by William Corcoran and other prominent citizens who wanted the national capital to have a first-rate theatre. Th ...
Founded: 1835/1923 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

The National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History opened in 1964. In 1980, the museum was renamed the National Museum of American History to represent its mission of the collection, care, study, and interpretation of objects that reflect the experience of the American people. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and located on the National Mall. Each wing of the museum's three exhibition floors is anchored by a landma ...
Founded: 1964 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Freer and Sackler Galleries

The Freer and Sackler galleries house the largest Asian art research library in the country and contain art from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Islamic world, the ancient Near East, and ancient Egypt, as well as a significant collection of American art. The gallery is located on the south side of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the physically connected Sackler Gallery. The galleries are amo ...
Founded: 1923 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Willard Hotel

The Willard Hotel has been a central gathering place for elegant dinners, meetings and gala social events for more than 150 years. The historic luxury hotel is a Washington institution that has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853. Politicians, heads of state, celebrities and other famous guests have frequented the hotel. The Willard Hotel is located in the heart of downtown, one block from the ...
Founded: 1847 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Washington National Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church located in Washington, D.C. The Neo-Gothic design was closely modeled on English Gothic style of the late 14th century. It is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, the second-largest in the United States, and the highest as well as the fourth-tallest structure in Washington, D.C. The Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation ere ...
Founded: 1907-1990 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a 2-acre (8,000 m²) national memorial in Washington, DC. It honors U.S. service members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War, service members who died in service in Vietnam/South East Asia, and those service members who were unaccounted for during the War. Its construction and related issues have been the source of controversies, some of which have resulted in addit ...
Founded: 1982 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial dedicated to Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), one of the most important of the American Founding persons. Jefferson was the main drafter and writer of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Continental Congress, governor of the newly independent Commonwealth of Virginia, American minister to King Louis XVI and the Kingdom of France, first U.S. Secretary o ...
Founded: 1939-1943 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

The National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. Following controversy over the discovery by Native American leaders that the Smithsonian Institution held more than 12,000–18,000 Indian remains, mostly in storage, United States Senator Daniel Inouye introduced in 198 ...
Founded: 2004 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress, but which is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The library is the second-largest library in the world by collection size. The Library of Congress moved to Washing ...
Founded: 1800 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates those who served in the Korean War. It was confirmed by the U.S. Congress in 1986. The main memorial is in the form of a triangle intersecting a circle. The Mural was created by Louis Nelson, with photographic images sandblasted into it depicting soldiers, equipment and people involved in the war. When reflected on the wall, there appear to be 38 soldiers, 38 months, and it i ...
Founded: 1986 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court Building is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States. Completed in 1935, it is situated in Washington, immediately east of the United States Capitol. The building is under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol. The Supreme Court Building is built in the Neoclassical style. The public façade is made of marble quarried from Vermont, and that of the non-public-facing courtyards, ...
Founded: 1935 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Treasury Building

The present Treasury Building was built over a period of 33 years between 1836 and 1869. The east and center wings, designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument and the Patent Office Building, comprise the first part of the building constructed between 1836 to 1842. The most architecturally impressive feature of the Mills design is the east colonnade running the length of the building. Each of the 30 col ...
Founded: 1836-1869 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Ford's Theatre

Ford"s Theatre has been used for various stage performances beginning in the 1860s. It is also the site of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. After being shot, the fatally wounded president was carried across the street to the Petersen House, where he died the next morning. The theatre was later used as a warehouse and office building, and in 1893 part of it collapsed, causing 22 ...
Founded: 1860s | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

St. Matthew's Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C., most commonly known as St. Matthew"s Cathedral, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. St. Matthew"s is dedicated to the Apostle Matthew, who among other things is patron saint of civil servants, having himself been a tax collector. It was established in 1840. Originally located at 15th and H Streets, construction of the current ...
Founded: 1893-1913 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Old Stone House

The Old Stone House was built in 1765 and is the oldest unchanged building in Washington, D.C. The house is also Washington"s last Pre-Revolutionary Colonial building on its original foundation. Unlike many Colonial homes in the area, sentimental local folklore preserved the Old Stone House from being demolished. The Old Stone House was constructed in three phases during the 18th century and is an example of vernacu ...
Founded: 1765 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history from 1933 to 1945. It is dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy. The USHMM’s collections contain more than 12,750 artifacts, 49 million pages of archival documents, 80,000 historical photo ...
Founded: 1993 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the United States and North America, one of the ten largest churches in the world, and the tallest habitable building in Washington, D.C. Construction of this church, notable for its Neo-Byzantine architecture, began in 1920 under Philadelphia contractor John McShain. It opened unfinished in 1959. An estimated one million pi ...
Founded: 1920 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

U.S. Navy Museum

The National Museum of the United States Navy is the flagship museum of the United States Navy located on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Navy Museum collects, preserves, displays, and interprets historic naval artifacts and artwork to inform, educate, and inspire naval personnel and the general public. The U.S. Navy Museum was established in 1961 and opened to the public in 1963. Per ...
Founded: 1961 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. The United States military cemetery was established during the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, which had been the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee"s wife Mary Anna Lee. On June 15, 1864, the Arlington House property and 200 acres of surrounding land were designated as a military cemetery as Quartermast ...
Founded: 1864 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

St. Nicholas Cathedral

St. Nicholas Cathedral is the primatial cathedral of the Orthodox Church in America. The original parish church was founded in 1930 as the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas. In 1949 the Synod of Bishops authorized the parish to be the church's National War Memorial Shrine and a national campaign to build a monumental Orthodox church in the capital of the United States was begun. The property upon which the cathedr ...
Founded: 1954-1962 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Saint Sophia Cathedral

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral was founded as a church in 1904 to serve the Greek Orthodox residents of the District of Columbia. In 1962, the church was elevated to a cathedral. The building is in the Neo-Byzantine style with a central dome that reaches 24m in height. The congregation met in temporary quarters for several years, prior to the construction of its own church near 8th and L Streets NW which was dedic ...
Founded: 1904-1955 | Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.