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An interior courtyard inside a museum. The ceiling has curved glass and people sit at tables across the floor.
National Portrait Gallery
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

D.C.'s most beautiful interiors, mapped

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

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National Portrait Gallery
| CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

Woah. That’s the word you’ll most likely say when walking into any of the buildings and spaces on this list. They represent some of the most stunning interiors in the area, from churches and hotels to museums and, yes, even the Metro.

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1. Washington National Cathedral

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3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

Just look up when you enter the National Cathedral and admire its stained glass windows. The nave is gigantic and gorgeous. No surprise there: The cathedral is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world and the second-largest in the U.S. Be sure to venture to the downstairs levels as well for all sorts of spaces.

The interior of a large cathedral with multiple stained glass windows. Getty Images

2. Four Seasons Hotel

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2800 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.

This longtime Georgetown hotel offers roughly 18,000 square feet of event space, including a 4,600-square-foot ballroom and 222 guest rooms. Don’t miss the artwork throughout and in the garden area.

3. Islamic Center of Washington

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2551 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

Established in 1957, the Islamic Center of Washington, in Kalorama, was once the largest mosque in the Western Hemisphere. It contains a library and classrooms as well as a myriad of mosaics and decorative columns inside.

The inside of a mosque, filled with people. There are tiles throughout. Getty Images

4. Hillwood Estate

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4155 Linnean Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

While the garden is certainly a sight to see at Hillwood Estate, the premises include several ornate buildings. In the main building, which dates to 1955, Marjorie Merriweather Post collected Russian imperial and 18th century French decorative art. The estate debuted as a public institution in 1977.

5. Dupont Circle Metro Station

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1525 20th St. NW
Washington, D.C.

The Dupont Circle Metro station, on the Red Line, is a prime example of the subway system’s Brutalist architecture. In 2014, the American Institute of Architects recognized Metro for setting “standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance.” How about those ceiling tunnels? The north entrance, a group of three escalators surrounded by greenery and a Walt Whitman quote, is nice too.

A subway station with Brutalist walls and ceilings. People walk on the platform as a train pulls away. The Washington Post via Getty Im

6. The Mayflower Hotel

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1127 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C.

Located in Dupont Circle, the Mayflower Hotel has one of the most stunning hotel lobbies in the city. Thanks to a $22 million renovation in 2015, all 10 floors of the luxury hotel were restored with a toned color scheme, plus new furniture and carpeting. The ballrooms and meeting rooms were also refreshed.

7. National Portrait Gallery

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8th St NW & F St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 633-8300
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Inside the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown, visitors can find the expansive Kogod Courtyard. The space is apt for cracking open a book, relaxing, and enjoying the design of the undulating glass ceiling. The design for the courtyard was first chosen in 2004 after an international competition. London-based architects Foster + Partners, the same firm behind New York City’s Hearst Tower, was named the winner.

8. National Museum of African American History and Culture

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1400 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

From the contemplative oculus to the bronze-colored corona, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a crown jewel of the District. It’s equally striking inside and outside. It was designed by David Adajye and Phil Freelon, among other noted architects, and has won awards.

The interior of a museum with decorative iron casing. Getty Images

9. The Peacock Room

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Jefferson Ave SW
Washington, D.C.

Photos don’t do justice for this extravagant room at the Freer Gallery, restored to its original 1908 appearance. Architect Thomas Jeckyll created a place for British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland to showcase his blue-and-white Chinese porcelain collection. The interior offers complex textures and what American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler described as a “harmony in blue and gold.”

10. Carnegie Library

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801 K St NW
Washington, D.C.

This neoclassical structure, dating to the early 20th century, was the first desegregated public building in D.C. It was also the city’s first public library when it opened. Nowadays, it’s a flagship Apple store and also used as space for the Historical Society of Washington. The interior was impressively refurbished to prepare for the Apple store.

A curved stairwell inside a neoclassical library. It has big arched windows. Getty Images

11. Shaw (Watha T. Daniel) Neighborhood Library

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1630 7th Street NW
Washington, D.C.

Built in 2010, this library occupies a triangular island in Shaw, offering a ground-floor children’s area, a teen space, and two 12-person conference rooms. Architecture firm Davis Brody Bond Aedas designed the building and won various award for it.

Getty Images

12. Jaleo

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480 7th St NW
Washington, D.C.

As one of D.C.’s most memorable José Andrés-founded restaurants, Jaleo boasts not only boast good food but thoughtful design. It has artistic touches like wooden bead curtains and hexagons tessellated along the walls and ceiling. Even the bathroom is undeniably unforgettable.

13. National Gallery of Art

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6th St and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

Designed by I.M. Pei and John Russell Pope, this historic museum blends both old and new. It is spread across two wings; one houses modern art, the other pre-18th century art. An LED light installation called “Multiverse” connects the two wings.

Getty Images

14. National Building Museum

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401 F St NW
Washington, D.C.

The National Building Museum’s enormous Great Hall is a stunning space with larger-than-life columns, perfect for admiring. The 1887 structure was previously known as the Pension Building and hosted several presidential inaugural balls. In 1985, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Today the Great Hall regularly features interactive exhibits. (The museum will close for repairs for a few months starting in December 2019.)

The great hall of a romanesque building with eight huge columns inside. Universal Images Group via Getty

15. U.S. Capitol

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Capitol Circle
Washington, D.C.

This one’s an obvious choice. If you’re interested in touring the Capitol building, be sure to make a reservation way ahead of time. Once inside, it’s recommended to see the inside of the iconic dome.

The interior of a dome in a capital building. There is a painted fresco in the middle of the ceiling. Getty Imagaes

16. Union Station

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50 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, D.C.

Most who cross through Union Station are too focused on getting from Point A to Point B to notice the beautiful architecture inside, but it’s worth a look. In 2016, Union Station’s Main Hall was restored with new paint and repairs to damage done during a 2011 earthquake.

17. Library of Congress

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101 Independence Ave SE
Washington, D.C.

This must-see landmark is one of D.C.’s most elegant places and the U.S.’s oldest federal cultural institution. Absolutely visit the breathtaking main reading room and admire its arches, statues, and stately desks.

The huge reading room of a neoclassical library, filled with desks arranged in a circle. ullstein bild via Getty Images

18. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

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400 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, D.C.

You may feel goosebumps inside this massive church. The Brookland basilica is the largest Catholic church in the U.S. and North America. Let your eyes feast on the artwork and painted murals.

1. Washington National Cathedral

3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
The interior of a large cathedral with multiple stained glass windows. Getty Images

Just look up when you enter the National Cathedral and admire its stained glass windows. The nave is gigantic and gorgeous. No surprise there: The cathedral is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world and the second-largest in the U.S. Be sure to venture to the downstairs levels as well for all sorts of spaces.

3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

2. Four Seasons Hotel

2800 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C.

This longtime Georgetown hotel offers roughly 18,000 square feet of event space, including a 4,600-square-foot ballroom and 222 guest rooms. Don’t miss the artwork throughout and in the garden area.

2800 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.

3. Islamic Center of Washington

2551 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
The inside of a mosque, filled with people. There are tiles throughout. Getty Images

Established in 1957, the Islamic Center of Washington, in Kalorama, was once the largest mosque in the Western Hemisphere. It contains a library and classrooms as well as a myriad of mosaics and decorative columns inside.

2551 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

4. Hillwood Estate

4155 Linnean Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

While the garden is certainly a sight to see at Hillwood Estate, the premises include several ornate buildings. In the main building, which dates to 1955, Marjorie Merriweather Post collected Russian imperial and 18th century French decorative art. The estate debuted as a public institution in 1977.

4155 Linnean Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

5. Dupont Circle Metro Station

1525 20th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
A subway station with Brutalist walls and ceilings. People walk on the platform as a train pulls away. The Washington Post via Getty Im

The Dupont Circle Metro station, on the Red Line, is a prime example of the subway system’s Brutalist architecture. In 2014, the American Institute of Architects recognized Metro for setting “standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance.” How about those ceiling tunnels? The north entrance, a group of three escalators surrounded by greenery and a Walt Whitman quote, is nice too.

1525 20th St. NW
Washington, D.C.

6. The Mayflower Hotel

1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

Located in Dupont Circle, the Mayflower Hotel has one of the most stunning hotel lobbies in the city. Thanks to a $22 million renovation in 2015, all 10 floors of the luxury hotel were restored with a toned color scheme, plus new furniture and carpeting. The ballrooms and meeting rooms were also refreshed.

1127 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C.

7. National Portrait Gallery

8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Inside the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown, visitors can find the expansive Kogod Courtyard. The space is apt for cracking open a book, relaxing, and enjoying the design of the undulating glass ceiling. The design for the courtyard was first chosen in 2004 after an international competition. London-based architects Foster + Partners, the same firm behind New York City’s Hearst Tower, was named the winner.

8th St NW & F St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
The interior of a museum with decorative iron casing. Getty Images

From the contemplative oculus to the bronze-colored corona, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a crown jewel of the District. It’s equally striking inside and outside. It was designed by David Adajye and Phil Freelon, among other noted architects, and has won awards.

1400 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

9. The Peacock Room

Jefferson Ave SW, Washington, D.C.

Photos don’t do justice for this extravagant room at the Freer Gallery, restored to its original 1908 appearance. Architect Thomas Jeckyll created a place for British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland to showcase his blue-and-white Chinese porcelain collection. The interior offers complex textures and what American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler described as a “harmony in blue and gold.”

Jefferson Ave SW
Washington, D.C.

10. Carnegie Library

801 K St NW, Washington, D.C.
A curved stairwell inside a neoclassical library. It has big arched windows. Getty Images

This neoclassical structure, dating to the early 20th century, was the first desegregated public building in D.C. It was also the city’s first public library when it opened. Nowadays, it’s a flagship Apple store and also used as space for the Historical Society of Washington. The interior was impressively refurbished to prepare for the Apple store.

801 K St NW
Washington, D.C.

11. Shaw (Watha T. Daniel) Neighborhood Library

1630 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Getty Images

Built in 2010, this library occupies a triangular island in Shaw, offering a ground-floor children’s area, a teen space, and two 12-person conference rooms. Architecture firm Davis Brody Bond Aedas designed the building and won various award for it.

1630 7th Street NW
Washington, D.C.

12. Jaleo

480 7th St NW, Washington, D.C.

As one of D.C.’s most memorable José Andrés-founded restaurants, Jaleo boasts not only boast good food but thoughtful design. It has artistic touches like wooden bead curtains and hexagons tessellated along the walls and ceiling. Even the bathroom is undeniably unforgettable.

480 7th St NW
Washington, D.C.

13. National Gallery of Art

6th St and Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Getty Images

Designed by I.M. Pei and John Russell Pope, this historic museum blends both old and new. It is spread across two wings; one houses modern art, the other pre-18th century art. An LED light installation called “Multiverse” connects the two wings.

6th St and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

14. National Building Museum

401 F St NW, Washington, D.C.
The great hall of a romanesque building with eight huge columns inside. Universal Images Group via Getty

The National Building Museum’s enormous Great Hall is a stunning space with larger-than-life columns, perfect for admiring. The 1887 structure was previously known as the Pension Building and hosted several presidential inaugural balls. In 1985, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Today the Great Hall regularly features interactive exhibits. (The museum will close for repairs for a few months starting in December 2019.)

401 F St NW
Washington, D.C.

15. U.S. Capitol

Capitol Circle, Washington, D.C.
The interior of a dome in a capital building. There is a painted fresco in the middle of the ceiling. Getty Imagaes

This one’s an obvious choice. If you’re interested in touring the Capitol building, be sure to make a reservation way ahead of time. Once inside, it’s recommended to see the inside of the iconic dome.

Capitol Circle
Washington, D.C.

16. Union Station

50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C.

Most who cross through Union Station are too focused on getting from Point A to Point B to notice the beautiful architecture inside, but it’s worth a look. In 2016, Union Station’s Main Hall was restored with new paint and repairs to damage done during a 2011 earthquake.

50 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, D.C.

17. Library of Congress

101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, D.C.
The huge reading room of a neoclassical library, filled with desks arranged in a circle. ullstein bild via Getty Images

This must-see landmark is one of D.C.’s most elegant places and the U.S.’s oldest federal cultural institution. Absolutely visit the breathtaking main reading room and admire its arches, statues, and stately desks.

101 Independence Ave SE
Washington, D.C.

18. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

400 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, D.C.

You may feel goosebumps inside this massive church. The Brookland basilica is the largest Catholic church in the U.S. and North America. Let your eyes feast on the artwork and painted murals.

400 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, D.C.