Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States of America. It was built on a ten-mile-square (16 square km) territory ceded to the federal government by the two surrounding states, Maryland and Virginia. The city’s territory does not belong to any of the 50 American states in particular, and therefore it belongs to all American citizens. Washington, D.C. was named after the first American President, George Washington. The abbreviation ‘D.C.’ stands for ‘District of Columbia’. The capital is the US legislative, administrative, and juidical center. It has the population of about 700,000 inhabitants. The city was laid out by the French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant in the late 18th century.
The American government is divided between these three branches: legislative, executive, and juidical. Each of these branches has its seat in Washington, D.C.
The legislative branch is represented by the US Congress (which is further divided to the House of Representatives and the Senate) and has its seat in the Capitol. The Capitol is the highest building in Washington, D.C., and no other in the city can be built higher. The Capitol has housed the Congress since 1800.
The executive branch is represented by the US President who has his seat in the White House. The White House has been the seat of every American President except George Washington.
The juidical branch has its seat in the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the highest tribunal in the nation and the building is a symbol of its importance and independence as a government branch.
The Mall is a two-mile-long parklike area, extending form the Capitol to the Washington Monument. There you can find many important institutions among which the Smithsonian Institution museums are probably the most interesting ones. These museums are for example: the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Air and Space Museum.
Another interesting building in Washington, D.C. is the Library of Congress built in the years 1888-1894. Its inside is beautifully decorated in the Art Nouveau style. The library stores such documents as The Constitution of the United States and The Declaration of Independence.
When talking about Washington, D.C. we musn’t foregt to mention its many monuments and memorials. Let’s start with the Washington Monument, a pencil-shaped column about 510ft (170 meters) high which was opened to public in 1888. It is the highest structure in Washington, D.C. and the exception to the rule that no building may be higher than the Capitol – simply because it is not a real building.
Walking through the Constitution Gardens would take us to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a long black wall in which the names of dead and missing persons from the Vietnam War are inscribed in silver. There are over 58,000 men and women, and the same number of inscriptions, who were reported dead or missing.
Opposite to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the Korean War Veterans Memorial. This open-air memorial honors members of the US Armed Forces who served in the Korean War (1950-53).
Now the walk takes us to the Licoln Memorial, a large building accesible by a long stairway. Inside the building there is an oversized statue of Abraham Lincoln, the US Civil War President.
Other memorials to be found in Washington, D.C. are for example the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
A place that is worth visiting is without a doubt the Ford’s Theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot. Across the street from the theater is the house where Lincoln died, which has been made into a museum.
Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac river, is the nation’s most sacred shrine. Veterans buried at Arlington represent every war the US has fought. John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s gravesite can be found at Arlington as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The US Holocaust Museum Memorial is an institution that very impresively introduces the Holocaust, its history and causes, to its visitors.
Washington, D.C. has its own university which is called Georgetown University and is considered very prestigeous.
The Washington Cathedral is built in a fake-gothic style. It stands on a hill overlooking the city.
Lastly, some other interesting institutions to be found in Washington, D.C. are the FBI building, the Pentagon, the National Archives, and the Old Post Office with the Old Post Office Tower.