- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome to Washington, one of the most exciting and beautiful cities in the world. America’s Federal City is the seat of government as well as a city of monuments and memorials.

The District of Columbia, full of culture, charm and intrigue, also has an international side in its embassies and everyday neighborhoods.

Aside from its many obvious attractions and sights, the District is known for its politicians, scandals and other prominent citizens. It has some of the country’s oldest churches and has been the base for some of the world’s greatest authors and musicians.

To help you find your way to many of the sights, we’ve provided short capsules on 35 points of immediate interest. Just use the numbers on each item to help you locate the place on the map you wish to see.

To download a PDF of Tourist Guide 2009 and see the large map corresponding to the numbers below, click here and go to Page 8.

U.S. Capitol

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East end of the Mall. The new Capitol Visitor Center, located on the east front of the building at First and East Capitol streets Northeast, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is closed Sundays and Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Inauguration days. Admission to the visitor center is free, but tickets are required to tour the Capitol itself. Tours must be reserved in advance, through a member of Congress or through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Services. A limited number of same-day passes are available. Information: 202/226-8000; www.visitthecapitol.gov, Metro stops: Capitol South, Union Station.

The building is most symbolic of the U.S. federal government and the place where laws are enacted by Congress. The Rotunda houses historical paintings, statues and frescoes beneath a massive dome. The gold circle in the center of the Rotunda’s floor marks the place where dozens of eminent citizens have lain in state, most recently former President Gerald Ford.

Visitors wishing to be admitted to the galleries when the House or Senate is in session must obtain passes from the office of a senator or representative. A flag flies over the Senate and House wings whenever either legislative body is in session.

Supreme Court

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Across the street from the East Front of the U.S. Capitol. Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Closed weekends and federal holidays. Information: 202/479-3211; www.supremecourtus.gov. Metro stops: Capitol South, Union Station.

Visits can coincide with court sessions, which are open to the public without a pass. The Supreme Court’s term runs from the first Monday in October through June. Limited seats are available to the public, so visitors should arrive before sessions begin. Two lines form on the front plaza, one for visitors who want to hear the entire argument, the other for visitors to hear a brief portion. When the court is not sitting, 30-minute lectures generally are provided every hour on the half-hour, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A 24-minute film about the court runs continuously from 9 a.m. to 4:25 p.m. daily. A cafeteria, snack bar and gift shop are available to visitors.White house

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