Top historic sites in Washington D.C.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon was the plantation house of George Washington, first President of the United States and his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. The Washington family had owned land in the area since the time of Washington's great-grandfather in 1674. In 1739 they embarked on an expansion of the estate that continued under George Washington, who came into possession of the estate in 1754, but did not become its sole own ...
Founded: 1758 | Location: Alexandria, 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

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

Dumbarton Oaks Museum

Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It was the residence and gardens of Robert Woods Bliss (1875–1962) and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss (1879–1969). Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss were enthusiastic collectors and judicious patrons of scholarship and the arts. A graduate of Harvard University, Robert Bliss pursued a distinguished career as an officer and dipl ...
Founded: | 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is a Neolithic circle structure. It may be the oldest and best known of the Circular Enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. It also may be one of the oldest Solar observatories in the world. It consists of a set of concentric ditches 75 metres across and two palisade rings containing gates in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the solstice days.

Its construction is dated to c. 4900 BC, and it seems to have remained in use until 4600 BC. This corresponds to the transitional phase between the Neolithic Linear Pottery and Stroke-ornamented ware cultures. It is one of a larger group of so-called Circular Enclosures in the Elbe and Danube region, most of which show similar alignments.

Excavators also found the remains of what may have been ritual fires, animal and human bones, and a headless skeleton near the southeastern gate, that could be interpreted as traces of human sacrifice or specific burial ritual. There is no sign of fire or of other destruction, so why the site was abandoned is unknown. Later villagers built a defensive moat following the ditches of the old enclosure.

The Goseck ring is one of the best preserved and extensively investigated of the many similar structures built at around the same time. Traces of the original configuration reveal that the Goseck ring consisted of four concentric circles, a mound, a ditch, and two wooden palisades. The palisades had three sets of gates facing southeast, southwest, and north. At the winter solstice, observers at the center would have seen the sun rise and set through the southeast and southwest gates.

Archaeologists generally agree that Goseck circle was used for observation of the course of the Sun in the course of the solar year. Together with calendar calculations, it allowed coordinating an easily judged lunar calendar with the more demanding measurements of a solar calendar.