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Often unnoticed because of its proximity to the Washington National Cathedral, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral is one of the largest halls of worship in the city. DC's Greek community has been worshiping at this Orthodox church for generations. Saint Sophia, or "Hagia Sophia," as it is known, hosts an annual Greek Festival on its grounds, offering traditional food and a lively, yet spiritual atmosphere. Celebrations during the Easter season are very special events.
Embassy row is another name for the part of Massachusetts Avenue where many of the foreign embassies are located. A tour along the avenue will unfold some interesting architectural masterpieces. This is considered as one of the upscale areas and houses some premier properties. Considered as one of the prime locations, the properties here were owned by prominent social and political elite. The Hilton Washington Embassy Row and The Westin Embassy Row are the two major accommodation options located on this stretch.
Settled on the hilly lawns of a naval fort in upper northwest Washington, the Observatory measures the times and positions of the stars. Visitors may watch a short movie and view the precision clocks and high-powered telescope. Though it is not generally open to the public, visitors can catch a glimpse of its fine Victorian exterior. Tours are held on select days. Up to 90 people are admitted per tour and prior reservations need to be made through their website.
The National Presbyterian Church is a landmark institution in Washington DC, with origins dating back to the 18th Century. Notable personalities to have visited the church include people like President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mother Teresa and Frederick Douglass. Besides holding traditional and contemporary service, the church has several active ministries. The best known is the Music ministry, and people from all over come to listen to the beautiful concerts performed by notable ensembles as well as solo performers. An extremely popular concert venue, the church provides an incredible atmosphere and acoustics, perfect for musical performances. Often, concerts are free of charge, making for a perfect opportunity to experience music in a unique setting.
Skirted by the surging waters of Rock Creek, the National Zoological Park is a forerunner for the title of America's finest wildlife facilities. It was created by Congress in 1889, making it one of the oldest zoos in the country. The zoo was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and New York's Central Park. The zoo is famous for its giant pandas from China but you will find all sorts of creatures, both familiar and exotic, crawling about the place. The zoo's Asia Trail gets you acquainted with fishing cats, clouded leopards and other Asian animals. In addition, the zoo is home to the Elephant Trails, Lemur Island, Cheetah Conservation and Great Cats where you can witness mighty lions and tigers in action. Birds and reptiles from across the world also call the Smithsonian National Zoological Park their home.
The largest mosque in the United States, the Islamic Center is built with white limestone and has a 162-foot (49-meter) high minaret. Within, stained-glass windows and fine Persian carpets contribute to the mosque's ornate and lavish artistry. In the Center complex, only the mosque is open to the public. Women must wear headscarves and visitors wearing shorts are not admitted. Tours are offered daily.