Built as a symbolic tribute to honor the first president of the United States, George Washington, the 555-foot marble obelisk known as the Washington Monument dominates the United States Capital skyline. Towering over Washington, DC, this popular tourist attraction is considered the city’s centerpiece. What most people don’t know is that inside the monument on the staircase landings from the 20ft level to the 450ft level are over 190 commemorative and decorative stones honoring George Washington. A very special stone is located at the 340ft level. It was a gift from the Vatican.
The stone is inscribed with the words, “A Roma Americae”, which in Latin says “From Rome to America”. On March 6th 1854 the original Vatican stone was stolen from the Washington Monument’s construction site. Most historians believe the stone was stolen by an anti-immigrant political party active at that time known at the Know Nothings. The stone you see in the monument today was set in 1982 to replace the original stone. The National Park Service website has photos of all the commemorative stones gifted to the Washington Monument from organizations and countries worldwide. Constructed from marble, granite and gneiss, the Washington Monument is the world's tallest free-standing stone structure
Washington Monument tickets are free and are available at the Washington Monument Lodge on 15th Street adjacent to the Washington Monument (map). Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and supplies are limited so get there early. Advance reservations are available and nonrefundable service fees do apply. Supplies of these tickets are limited as well. All tickets are issued for a specific time for you to report to the Washington Monument. The Monument closes due to some weather conditions, such as high winds and thunderstorms. In such an event, tickets will be voided for those hours.
There are no bathrooms, water, food, or other amenities inside the Washington Monument. The closest restrooms can be found in the Washington Monument Lodge. The waiting area to enter the monument is outdoors and exposed to all weather conditions, plan accordingly. If you or someone in your party is uncomfortable with enclosed tight spaces, crowds, heights or elevators you might want to consider a trip to the top of the Washington Monument will include all of these conditions. Rangers are posted to direct you to security screening areas. All visitors are required to go through the security screening. Strollers and other bulky items are prohibited, wheelchairs are allowed.
Upon arrival at the Washington Monument you will be directed to the ground floor lobby where a park ranger will guide you to the elevator while providing commentary on the quick ascent to the top floor, which is 500 feet above the ground. The entire ride to the top lasts about 70 seconds. Upon exiting the elevator visitors can tour the 500' level observation deck. If you follow the steps down to the 490' level you will find the museum. When available, visitors with limited mobility can use the elevator to go down to the museum level from the 500' observation area.
At the 490' museum level besides discovering exhibits, is where visitors will find the line to take the elevator for the descent. Again Rangers are on hand to help you board the elevator and to provide information about the 2-minute descent. The elevator is preprogrammed to slow in specific areas of the monument to provide passengers with views of certain areas of the monument's interior.