I have visited the DC areas many times, mostly on business, and I have always observed the Washington Masonic National Memorial in the skyline. I have been meaning to visit this place, particularly since I read about it years ago in Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol". Well, this time we decided to visit.
The only downside was that we didn't arrive at a time where we could do the guided tour that takes you to the top of the tower. The tours are 10 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 3 pm. We may go back and do that. The guided tour takes a little less than an hour and is only $8.
The building was dedicated in 1932 and the design is reminiscent of the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. You will see Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns. The memorial was inspired by the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world that is no longer around for us to compare. This is very fitting because the tower is located in Alexandria, Virginia! The tower is also capped with an Egyptian style pyramid.
George Washington was a Freemason and there are many artifacts on display that portray him in his full Mason regalia including a replica of his Mason apron. One of the most interesting artifacts is his Masonic chair. George Washington joined the Masonic Lodge in Fredericksburg, Virginia when he was 20 years old and later joined the Alexandria Lodge No. 22 of Virginia, where he became Grand Master. The chair is now used to induct all new Grand Masters of the Alexandria Lodge which is still in existence today and meets in the Memorial.
As you walk in the door the first sight you will see is the Memorial Hall and it is a sight to behold. The ancient Greek and Roman influence continue here. There are enormous columns making up the huge portico and at the end of the room is the colossal statue of Washington in his Masonic apron and jewel standing in front of a massive chair. It is quite beautiful in the rounded niche with just the right amount of lighting. You will see beautiful murals surrounding the area. One of the most interesting is the one depicting Washington laying the cornerstone of the United States Capital in 1793.
The site also has a replica of the Alexandria Lodge No. 22 which displays the original furniture. The Washington Masonic chair is located here.
I was a bit disappointed with the Grand Masonic Hall, located on the first level. Not that is wasn't beautiful with the huge 4 feet in diameter, 18 feet high granite Doric columns, but because there was very little lighting in which to see the beauty. It was as if someone forgot to turn the lights on. At the end of the long hall a bronze bust of Washington is visible. You can get a closer look at it by walking around to the other side. It is huge and sits in front of a mural of Mount Vernon.
There is lots of history here and lots of information about Masons. It shows our first President from a different perspective.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.