Secrets you didn’t know about 8 famous landmarks in Washington, DC

The Capitol seen through columns of the Supreme Court Building.

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The Capitol seen through columns of the Supreme Court Building.
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Dan Thornberg / EyeEm via Getty Images

  • Washington, DC, is home to some of the country’s most famous buildings.
  • Though the buildings receive thousands of visitors each year, some have little-known features inside and out.
  • Moon rocks, secret crypts, and underground tunnels are the best-kept secrets in these popular tourist spots.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Washington, DC, is home to the US government and some of the country’s most famous historical landmarks.

From moon rocks to empty crypts situated inside these popular tourist spots, these monuments and government buildings still have some secrets.

See inside some lesser-known corners of Washington’s most famous buildings.


The Washington Monument is two colors by accident.

During the monument’s construction in 1854, the Washington National Monument Society ran out of money. Construction was put on hold for 25 years, after which the federal government took the project over and completed it in 1884 – but with marble from a different quarry.

Over time and through weather, the two parts of the monument have become noticeably different colors, and a third type of marble in between the main layers marks the delineation.


There’s a “whispering gallery” in the US Capitol.

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National Statuary Hall at the US Capitol.
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Michael Freeman/Getty Images

Visitors to the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall can experience the acoustical effect where something said at certain points yards away can be heard easily. These points in the hall are different from those in the 19th century because the floor and ceiling of the hall have since been changed.


The Washington National Cathedral holds a 3 billion-year-old piece of space.

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A piece of moon rock is embedded in the Space Window, which is on the south side of the Washington National Cathedral.
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Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The cathedral’s Space Window took inspiration from photographs taken during the Apollo 11 mission and is inscribed with a Bible verse that says: “Is not God in the height of Heaven?”

The moon rock at the center of the window measures just over 2 inches, has been estimated to be approximately 3.6 billion years old, and contains the previously unknown mineral pyroxferroite.

The Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins presented it to the cathedral in 1974 to mark the fifth anniversary of their mission to the moon.


The Maine Avenue Fish Market is the oldest in the country.

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The market has been in continuous operation since 1805, making it the oldest open-air fish market in the US. It beat the second-oldest, New York City’s Fulton Fish Market, by 17 years.


There’s a crypt in the basement of the Capitol that was meant for George Washington, but the first president was never laid to rest there.

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The Crypt in the basement of the U.S. Capitol, center point of the city of Washington, DC.
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dkfielding/Getty Images

The underground space was completed in 1827, and it marks not only the center of the building but also the point from which the streets in Washington are laid out and numbered.

Though the crypt doesn’t contain the first president, 13 statues are on display from the National Statuary Hall Collection to represent the 13 original colonies.


There was a typo in the original etching on the Lincoln Memorial.

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The inscription of Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
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fstockfoto/Getty Images

A three-panel etching of President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on the north wall contained the word “future” spelled with an “E” instead of an “F.” The mistake has since been touched up, but the letter’s extra leg is still visible.


Georgetown University’s campus sits atop a network of underground tunnels.

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lillisphotography/Getty Images

The maintenance tunnels are popular among adventurous students who have been reported to visit the tunnels for graffiti, firsthand reports, and secret-society meetings.


The White House has a near twin in Dublin.

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Leinster House in Dublin.
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PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

It’s widely believed that the Irish architect James Hoban won a newspaper contest to design the White House based on a design inspired by Leinster House, which houses the Irish Parliament in Dublin.