Jefferson Memorial

One of the National Mall’s more austere pieces of architecture, the Jefferson Memorial pays homage to one of America’s greatest presidents and visionaries.

Walk the mile (1.6 kilometers) from the Lincoln Memorial, past the rows of cherry trees and into the Tidal Basin area of the National Mall and you come across another pantheon-like structure dedicated to one of America’s greatest presidents and thinkers. Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, holding office between 1801 and 1809, and the principal author of America’s Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson greatly admired the neoclassical architecture of ancient Greece, so it’s appropriate that his memorial was modeled after the Pantheon. Climb the tall, marble steps, stopping to take a breath-taking view of the White House. Then, walk through the imposing columns until you come to the 19-foot-high (six-meter), bronze statue of Jefferson. The figure, which faces north towards the White House, was designed to represent the Age of Enlightenment, and Jefferson as a philosopher and statesman. 

To gain an appreciation of Jefferson’s ideals and aspirations for his country, read the different inscriptions on the interior walls. Most notable is the passage from the Declaration of Independence, but the inscriptions come from a number of other sources too, including his letters and memoirs. The inscriptions range in subject, from the right to religious freedom for all people, the need to abolish slavery, and the need for the constitution to change with the times. 

A number of events are held in the National Mall’s picturesque Tidal Basin throughout the year, including jazz concerts on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in spring. For a relaxing and unique view of the Jefferson Memorial from the water, rent a paddleboat from Tidal Basin Paddle Boats on Main Avenue.

The memorial is open 24 hours a day. 

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