Top historic sites in 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.