The Library of Congress or the Best Thing in Washington D.C.

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I apologize (again) for being MIA last week. My fiance and I were in Washington D.C. visiting one of my best friends, and blog posts sort of took a back seat. If I’d been better prepared, I would have scheduled them, but I’m not that good.

Since we spent the better part of five days going over all the more well-known D.C. sites, I want to share my top five D.C. attractions with you, but before that, I have to take some time to express my love for the Library of Congress, also known as the largest library in the world, also known as whyhaven’tIbeenherebeforebecauseit’sbasicallyamagicalplaceonparwithDisneylandbecausebooksbooksbooksandmorebooksplusit’stotallygorgeous. I think the last one might be incorporated into the official title at some point.

We almost didn’t get a chance to go into this amazing building. Paul and I came down on Sunday to see it, not knowing that the Library was in fact closed. On Tuesday, just before our flight, we decided to go down again to see it. And it was so worth it.

The Gutenberg Bible (the first book in print) and the Mainz Bible (which is written by hand but looks nearly identical to its newer counterpart and took 15 months to produce) were on display. Jefferson’s personal library was also out to look at. If you’re interested, he organized his books by subject and by height. Though a third of over 6,800 volumes were lost in a fire, the shelves were filled in with similar books from the same era, the same books from different eras, and black boxes to represent the missing books. It was amazing.

There was also a display of some huge maps from the 1500s and artifacts from the Mayas. My friend, who is a huge map lover, was extremely happy.

We were also able to view the main reading room, which is a huge circular chamber in which there’s a ton of reading desks, via the overlook.

But some of the most amazing parts of the Library are the walls and ceilings and floors, which are inlaid with mosaics, have intricate stone carvings, have paintings and quotes about the importance of reading and knowledge. It’s a temple to reading.

And my other top picks for D.C?

  • My favorite monument in the city is Jefferson’s–it’s a place with presence and quiet even when you’re with dozens of people. It’s a place of hope for me as well, I look at the quotes on the walls and think about how our country was meant to stand for justice through change and progress.
  • Singing the “I’m just a bill song” while skirting around the Capitol Building
  • Food. D.C. has a great, if slightly pricey food scene. One of the more affordable highlights was a cream puff place in Georgetown called Beard Papa where you can pick your filling and it’s filled up right in front of you.
  • The Newseum is amazing and completely worth its high entrance fee. It’s all about media and journalism and has 7 floors of interesting exhibits.

Honorable mention:

  • The Smithsonian museums are always worth a visit–they’re free and they’re great. My favorite of the ones I’ve been to is probably the American History museum–though we didn’t hit that one this time. I just get a kick out of Dorothy’s shoes.
  • The Folger Shakespeare Library is right behind the Library of Congress. We didn’t get to spend very long in there because we only caught the tail end of the tour, but it’s worth reserving a tour. They have the largest collection of First Folios and an impressive art collection as well as various Shakespeare related artifacts. Next time I’m in D.C. I’ll be making a point in going there.

 

 

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