15 Famous Buildings In Washington DC, USA

| 4 min read

Washington DC is the capital of America and is a place rich with history and iconic buildings. Even if you’re not American, you’ll probably still have heard of at least many of these famous buildings before. Places like the White House and Capitol Building have been made famous in many works of art, movies and even video games. Washington DC borders the states of Maryland and Virginia and is home to many imposing neo-classical buildings found throughout the city. If you’re visiting Washington DC soon, consider staying in one of the Airbnb vacation rentals or hotels with a view of the White House. Then read on below to discover the most famous buildings in the area.

1. The National Building Museum (from USD 79.15)

famous buildings in washington dc | the national building museum
Source: www.klook.com

The National Building Museum, which served as the former federal pension bureau, details American history through the architecture and engineering that has shaped the Nations and the world’s growth from the past to present and even into the future. A visit to this museum will immerse you in its often-overlooked yet stunning architectural design and history. Completed in 1887, this national historic landmark is just four blocks from National Mall and steps from a metro stop. Make sure to visit National Building Museum or at least walk by to see this famous historic building in the Nation’s Capital.

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2. The Kreeger Museum

The Kreeger Museum
Source: Photo by Flickr user Amaury Laporte used under CC BY 2.0

A lesser-known yet still famous art museum hidden in the northwest D.C. Berkley neighborhood. The Kreeger Museum hosts original classic works of art by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso among many others. Specializing in art from the 1800s and 1900s, you will see many paintings and sculptures from around the world as well as artwork from prominent artists that have called Washington D.C. home. Make sure to visit and marvel at the artistry of Philip Johnson, a renowned architect who designed the structure originally as the Kreeger family home.

The Kreeger Museum

Address: 2401 Foxhall Road, NW Washington D.C. 20007

Website: The Kreeger Museum

Opening hours: Tues - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: 10 USD

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3. The House of Sweden

Embassy of Sweden, Washington
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Elvert Barnes used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The House of Sweden, which houses the Swedish Embassy, is a famous building in D.C. for its beautiful architectural design. Constructed in the early 2000s, this complex sits between the Potomac River and Rock Creek on the Georgetown waterfront and looks out towards Theodore Roosevelt Island. Unlike many embassies that are fortified or fenced in, you receive sweeping views of the interior just by walking past the massive glass windows that line the building. When you are in the Georgetown neighborhood of D.C., make sure to marvel at this famous competition-winning architectural design.

The House of Sweden

Address: 2900 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007, United States

Website: The Swedish Embassy - Washington

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4. The Embassy of Canada Rotunda

Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Across the street from the National Gallery of Art is the Canadian Embassy which is a beautifully designed famous building in the heart of Washington, D.C. Having a largely open layout, those that walk around the embassy building will see a marvelous sculpture of the Spirit of Haida Gwaii Black Canoe and can walk into the rotunda on the east side of the building. With columns representing all the provinces and territories of Canada, the rotunda is also a popular echo chamber among D.C. locals. Walk around this famous D.C. embassy building that is conveniently located across the street from the National Mall!

The Embassy of Canada Echo Chamber

Address: 501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States

Website: The Embassy of Canada

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Washington Tour Guide

Annie Leguennec

Annie Leguennec

My name is Annie. I am a local Tour guide based in Philadelphia enjoying fully what the city has to offer with its deep history, street arts, murals, architecture, traditional food, black history, Farmer Markets, green space, a melting pot of neighborhoods and its great locals. I am looking for to welcome you and show you this incredible city where you will gain a better understanding of the city's rich heritage and its continuing legacy as the birthplace of the United States of America. Book my tour. Explore and learn about this unique city where you will walk on the footsteps of our America's founding Fathers. My tours are conducted in English, French and Italian.

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Washington Tour Guide

Stephanie Eley

Stephanie Eley

I'm a graduate of ITMI, International Tour Management Institute and 17 years as a licensed Tour Director and Program Director. My expertise began in NYC and Washington, DC where I'm a licensed guide and has expanded to Europe, South America, Cuba and the Western / Southwestern National Parks of the US. I'd love to introduce you for a day or a week to Denver, Colorado and the 4 corners region of the US: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona! Let's GO!! stepheley@gmail.com

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5. St Coletta of Greater Washington

St. Coletta School of Greater Washington
Source: Photo by Flickr user NCinDC used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Another famous yet obscure and often overlooked building in D.C. is the private charter school St Coletta of Greater Washington. Designed for children with special needs, the school was designed by the renowned architect Micheal Graves and completed in 2006. Structured to appear as building blocks, the campus features multiple buildings that are reminiscent of blocks stacked by children. Easily accessed from the Stadium-Armory Metro stop, take a quick walk down Independence Ave. to see multiple unique buildings that are part of the school campus.

St Coletta of Greater Washington

Address: 1901 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003, United States

Website: St Coletta of Greater Washington

Opening hours: Not open to the public

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6. Library of Congress

Library of Congress (1)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Josh used under CC BY 2.0

The Library of Congress is known as the “nation library of the U.S”. It is also the oldest federal institution in the U.S and it is so big that it is housed in three different buildings on Capitol Hill. The library claims that it is the “largest of its kind in the world” with collections in over 450 different languages. In 1812, much of it was burned down but by 1815, it went through a restoration project, with the most notable aspect of the process being the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s entire personal library of over 6,000 books.

Library of Congress

Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA

Website: Library of Congress

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7. Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington National Cathedral is the home of the archbishop of Washington. The neo-gothic style of the church is reminiscent of the English Gothic style of the late 14th century and over 270,000 people visit it annually. The cathedral began construction in 1907, and the first foundation stone was laid by then-President Theodore Roosevelt.

Washington National Cathedral

Address: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA

Website: Washington National Cathedral

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8. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AgnosticPreachersKid used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the US and in North America. Featuring neo-Byzantine architecture, construction of the basilica began the 1920s and it is the patron home of the Catholic Church in the country. The basilica doesn’t have its own parish or community but it is located across from the Catholic University of America and three Popes have visited it so far.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Address: 400 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC 20017, USA

Website: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Tip from Trip101 local expert



A visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a wonderful free activity for while you are in D.C. Take the red line on the Metro to the Catholic University stop, and after a short stroll through campus, you will arrive at the Basilica. With the opportunity to attend religious services and go on guided tours daily, you can immerse yourself in the heart of the Catholic Church in America!

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9. Lincoln Memorial

Aerial view of Lincoln Memorial - east side EDIT
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aerial_view_of_Li... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Lincoln Memorial was built to memorialize President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the US and one of the key figures that brought down slavery. The memorial is located on the National Mall, where you could also sign on to some free tours. It is also one of the most visited sites in Washington DC. The building is in the form a Greek-style temple with Lincoln inside along with two inscriptions from the “Gettysburg Address” and his second Inaugural Address. The site was home of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream speech” and has been featured in countless movies from Forrest Gump to Planet of the Apes

Lincoln Memorial

Address: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA

Website: Lincoln Memorial

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10. The White House

White House Washington
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cezary p used under CC BY-SA 4.0

What is more iconic in DC than the White House itself? Probably nothing. One of America’s most famous national symbols, the White House has been the home of the president since John Adams in 1800. The building has undergone extensive reconstruction and renovation work since it was initially built and after being burned to the ground in 1814, it was reconstructed almost immediately by James Monroe. In 1909, President Taft created the West Wing, which is better known today as the oval office.

The White House

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.

Website: The White House

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11. The US Capitol

US Capitol west side
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Martin Falbisoner used under CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the best things to do when you’re in Washington is to visit the US Capitol building, which is the home of the United States Congress. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. The original building was finished in 1800 and has since been expended and built in a neo-classical style with white exterior. The capitol is building is known architecturally for its large dome which only appeared in 1855. The building also interestingly features a crypt that was supposed to house the body of George Washington although because of his will, he is buried on Mount Vernon.

The US Capitol

Address: First St SE, Washington, DC 20004, USA

Website: The US Capitol

Tip from Trip101 local expert



If you are in D.C., visiting the Capitol building is a must! Make sure to book a tour online in advance of your trip so that you can see the inside of this beautiful and historic building. If you want to watch congress in session, you will need a special pass. Reach out to the office of your local representative or senator to arrange a pass to watch history happen on the house and senate floors!

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12. Smithsonian Institution Building

Smithsonian Institution Building
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lindsay Anderson used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Smithsonian Institution Building is nicknamed “The Castle” and for good reason. The red sandstone building was built in a 12th-century Norman-style motif and looks just like a castle. The building was completed in 1895 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the man who designed it also designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The main Smithsonian Visitor’s centre is housed here as well as the crypt of founder James Smithson.

Smithsonian Institution Building

Address: 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA

Website: Smithsonian Institution Building

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13. Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Source: Pixabay

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is dedicated to one of America’s most important founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who is known for drafting and writing the Declaration of Independence and was the American minister to King Louis XVI of France. He was the first secretary of state under Washington and the second Vice President under John Adams. Jefferson eventually became the third President of the US. The memorial sits in West Potomac Park overlooking the shores of the Potomac River. The memorial was built in 1939 and by 1947 a bronze statue of Jefferson was placed there.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Address: 701 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242, USA

Website: Thomas Jefferson Memorial

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14. National Museum of the American Indian

Museum of the American Indian DC 2007
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gryffindor used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution and it is committed to preserving and understanding the culture of Native Americans from all over the country. Since 1989, the museum has repatriated over 5,000 items back to Native Americans and by the following year, the museum was officially part of the Smithsonian.

National Museum of the American Indian

Address: 4th St SW & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, United States

Website: National Museum of the American Indian

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15. Washington Monument

Washington Monument P1000452
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jkenwood78 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

What would be an article about Washington DC without the Washington Monument? The monument which bears the name of the city and dedicated to the man who would lead the US to independence and then be the first president. The monument is a large obelisk made out of marble and granite and stands as the world’s tallest obelisk at 554 feet (170 metres). Construction began in 1848 but only finished in 1888 with the civil war and lack of funds slowing down the process.

Washington Monument

Address: 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024, USA

Website: Washington Monument

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America's home

Washington DC is the home of many famous landmarks and home of the American government. Apart from the usual theme parks and shopping malls, there are also a ton of museums and sites to visit in Washington DC that will provide you with a memorable experience. The only problem is finding the time to see them all. This list, therefore, condenses all that into a fun-size bucket list of the most prominent ones in the city that you should never miss!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Alex is a Canadian university graduate with degrees in English literature and History. He was born in Montreal and when he's not traveling he enjoys movies, video games, playing the drums and...Read more

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