Recognized around the world as a symbol of the United States, the United States Capitol and Capitol Hill is the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The huge dome, based on the dome of St. Peter's in Rome, stands out above all other Washington buildings. An underground passage with historical exhibits leads from the Capitol to one of Washington's little known places to visit, the Library of Congress. It's the world's largest library, modeled on the Opera House in Paris.
The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States. The home of every president except George Washington. The free White House Visitor Center, a short distance away, has excellent interactive exhibits, which show details about the White House and the presidential families. It includes furniture of past presidents, a model of the residence, historical changes, and videos with insights from presidents about their time living there.
The best-loved of all Washington's memorials, the Lincoln Memorial stands at the far end of the mall, separated from the Washington Monument by the Reflecting Pool. At its center is a 19-foot marble statue of a seated and pensive President Abraham Lincoln surrounded by 36 columns, one for each of the states that existed at the time of Lincoln's death. This is the most famous work designed by noted sculptor Daniel Chester French. Jules Guerin painted the murals on the inside walls, showing important events in Lincoln's life.
The 555-foot white shaft of the Washington Monument is a familiar icon of the National Mall, and a beautiful sight, especially when mirrored in the long Reflecting Pool at its foot. The base of the monument is surrounded by a circle of 50 American Flags.
One of the world's most popular museums is the National Air and Space Museum. You can see collections of history-making air and spacecraft that includes the original 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the first plane to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Housed in two separate buildings connected by a tunnel, the National Gallery of Art is one of the world's premier art museums and one of the most popular in the U.S. Based on the sizable collection of financier and later Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, its large and diverse collection includes masterpieces of European and American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts.
One of the most popular things to do with children in Washington, the Museum of Natural History explores the natural world with permanent and changing exhibits to interest all ages. Favorite exhibits include the renowned Hope Diamond and the dazzling collection of gems and minerals around it; Ocean Hall with its stunning underwater photography and replica of a 45-foot North Atlantic Right Whale; and the Hall of Human Origins, which follows human evolution over six million years in response to a changing world. Children will especially like the dinosaur exhibits and the interactive Discovery Room where they can touch and play with various artifacts.
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