Founded in 1807, the Congressional Cemetery is the only “cemetery of national memory” founded before the Civil War. It occupies nearly 36 acres (14.5 hectares and is a National Historic Landmark, serving as the final resting place for nearly 70,000 people including notable founders of the US and the city of Washington DC in the early 1800s.
The Congressional Cemetery honors 171 members of Congress who died in office with cenotaphs, or tombstones, at empty graves. Some of the most notable individuals interred at the cemetery include Vice Presidents Elbridge Gerry (the only signer of the Declaration of Independence who is buried in Washington DC) and George Clinton, J. Edgar Hoover (the first FBI director), and Tom Lantos (the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress).
In addition to self-guided walking tours, free guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays, and special themed tours are offered; check the events calendar on the website for more information.
Things to know before you go
- Wear comfortable walking shoes as tours often venture off the main pathways.
- Members are allowed to walk their dogs on the cemetery grounds; they serve as unofficial site patrol.
- Burial plots are available for purchase in all sections of the cemetery.
How to get there
The Congressional Cemetery is located along the Anacostia River in Washington DC, and is accessible via the city’s Metro; take the orange or blue line to Potomac Avenue Station, then walk three blocks to 18th Street SE and Potomac Avenue. Cars are not allowed on the grounds, but parking is available along nearby streets.
When to get there
The Congressional Cemetery is open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset. Guided tours are offered every Saturday at 11am, from April through October, and every Sunday at 1pm in April, May, June, September, and October. Overall, the best time to visit Washington DC is during the spring and fall seasons, when the pleasant weather allows you to comfortably explore outdoor sites.
Arlington National Cemetery
A popular day trip from Washington DC, Arlington National Cemetery is a significant place of remembrance that is the final resting place for notable political figures including President John F. Kennedy. Plan to time your visit so you can see the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, during certain periods of the year.
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