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Visiting the Lincoln Memorial

lincoln memorial with statue at night

A grand memorial for a great president

The experience

Lincoln Memorial at sunrise

The Lincoln Memorial towers over the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. The structure anchors the western end of the Mall, and is a must-see for every visitor to the nation’s capital.

The best way to approach the Memorial is from the east, by the Washington Monument and the National World War II Memorial. This will put you at the edge of the Reflecting Pool, a shimmering expanse recently renovated to best illuminate the grand buildings honoring our most storied leaders.

Take a stroll toward the Memorial and watch as it gradually gets larger. When you stand directly in front, gaze at the handsome marble columns surrounded by greenery, part of a design inspired by ancient Greek temples. There are 36 columns, each one representing one state in the U.S. at the date of President Lincoln’s death. The Memorial itself is 190 feet long and 119 feet wide, and reaches a height of almost 100 feet.

Lincoln Memorial Statue

Climb the stairs leading to the interior, and look up. There, etched into the wall, is a memorable quote: "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."

Below the quote sits a 19-foot tall, 175-ton statue of the man, himself looking out over the Mall of the country that he fought so hard to preserve and unite. The statue was designed by Daniel Chester French, who worked to depict Lincoln during the Civil War, stately and dignified. Interestingly, though the memorial was approved decades earlier, construction began in 1914, and the memorial opened to the public in 1922.

To the left of the statue is Lincoln’s great speech, the Gettysburg Address, perhaps the most famous in U.S. history. Every single word of the Address is etched into the wall to inspire Americans just as it did so brilliantly in 1863. To the right is the entire Second Inaugural Address, given in March of 1865 and mere months before Lincoln’s death.

The facts

The Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Rangers are on duty from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The easiest way to reach the Memorial is by Metrorail or Metrobus.

The nearest Metro stations are Foggy Bottom and Smithsonian. If traveling by Metrobus, take the 32, 34 or 36 routes. Capital Bikeshare also has a dock nearby, on Daniel French Drive SW. Find a schedule of events at the Memorial here.

After exploring the Lincoln Memorial, you will want to see what else the National Mall has to offer. Read up on the other awesome monuments and memorials that can be found there.