Diplomatic Washington offers a peek into the international side of the capital city of the United States, and the stretch of Massachusetts Avenue from 18th Street to 35th Street, called Embassy Row, is at the heart of this aspect of the city. Stately homes from turn-of-the-century mansions to modernist marvels completed in the past decade, now utilized as chanceries and diplomat's residences, line both sides of the avenue and give a glimpse of the world in just two and a half miles of walking.
The three figures on the fountain dedicated to Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont at the center of (1) Dupont Circle represent the sea, wind, and stars. You see every walk of life here, from the bike messenger to the suited professionals to students. Follow Massachusetts Avenue heading west from the circle to (2) 2020 Massachusetts Avenue. Once the home of Irishman Thomas Walsh (who used the money he made from striking gold in Colorado to build the mansion), daughter Evalyn, the last private owner of the Hope Diamond, sold the place to Indonesia, and it now serves as their embassy.
Head west three blocks along Massachusetts to (3) Sheridan Circle, ringed by embassies including those of Cyprus, Romania, and Armenia. The statue of the Union general at the circle's center was created by Gutzon Borglum, most famous for chiseling Mount Rushmore.
Detour a block south on 23rd Street to see the (4) Dumbarton Bridge, built in 1915 and notable for the arresting bison sculptures that stand on each corner. Return to Massachusetts and amble three blocks more to the (5) Islamic Center, a practicing mosque comprised of elaborate tilework, arches and pillars and topped with a soaring minaret; "Nice to see Eastern architecture nestled among the other buildings; a great reminder of how international the city is."—Gabriel Einsohn, Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum.
On your left as you cross 30th Street is the angular and modern, rose Asiago marble-shelled (6) Italian embassy. The diamond floor plan of the embassy was created to reflect the original boundaries of the city of Washington. A few minutes walk more along Massachusetts brings you to the (7) Khalil Gibran Centennial Fountain on your right, a memorial established in 1983 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Lebanese poet's (author of The Prophet) birth.
At 3301 Massachusetts, the constructivist architecture of the (8) Finnish embassy was based on the ideas of Alvar Aalto and stands as one of the city's contemporary architectural gems, featuring a cantilevered glass back wall that juts over Rock Creek Park. The embassy is open to the public twice yearly during exhibitions of Finnish art and design and organizes open-to-the-public concerts.
Shop National Geographic