While this enormous Masonic temple in Alexandria is visible from all over the city, I finally found my way there this past weekend to explore its inner secrets – and I was impressed. While I know in reality that the mysteries revolving around Freemasonry are highly dramatized, the unintelligible symbols, the A-list of Presidential members, and the immensity of the memorial make for an interesting combination, to say the least. Even if it does require a little imagination to keep the myths going.
The memorial is currently running tours up to four times a day, including weekends, covering all “9″ floors of the building. From the entry hall, up to the museum, then to the Egyptian floor, followed by the Knights of Templar and, finally, the observation deck. Where are the other 4 floors? That only adds to the mystery. In several weeks, the temple is opening the elevators for public use on unguided tours, but for now you must go on a guided tour. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE.
First and foremost, I was surprised about the lack of questions involving Dan Brown. Not a single visitor on our tour raised their hand to ask the truth of a silly book-driven rumor, while our tour guide had initially fed into the frenzy by referencing some of the myths and secrecy surrounding Freemasonry. I don’t want to delve into the secrets of Dan Brown’s latest book, The Lost Symbol, in case you haven’t already read it, but regardless, I was expecting a newly-added guided tour aimed at debunking the myths from the book with a line of tourists asking obnoxious questions about some hidden cornerstone.
But, the lack of random questions helped our tour guide stay on track and keep us informed about the truths of the memorial and Freemasonry. I was surprised to find out that the enormous G on the front lawn of the tower was for God, and not for George Washington, as I had naively assumed. I was also amazed at the number of Presidents involved in Freemasonry. The recognition of each is almost overwhelming. Their faces are in plaques, paintings, and photos, all with masonic garb.
courtesy of ‘CathyLovesDC’
Our guide, when casually explaining the questionable traits of each of the tower’s floors, pointed out the masonic aprons, medals, and their symbolism. He went back to the Egyptian history of the Arc of the Covenant. He pointed out the dark sides of stained glass windows, and the light. He also mentioned the uniqueness of the elevators, which instead of ascending straight up, become increasingly closer at each floor. It gives the tour an added sense of mystery. Sort of like Alice in Wonderland, where the rooms keep getting smaller, and the distance between the elevators keeps shrinking.
While the tower stands 330 feet tall, almost 200 feet shorter than the monument, the 360 degree panoramic view from the top is unreal, especially on a gorgeous day like this past Sunday. The viewpoint straight down King Street gives an enormous sense of power and direction.
The George Washington Masonic Memorial is an incredible experience and is highly recommended for out-of-town guests, or an in-town excursion. Even in Washington, you can’t beat this kind of history, mystery, and architectural wonder for this price. And besides, you know you’ve been wanting to uncover some of your own hidden myths for a while now.
The tour is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day of the week. The guided tower tours are daily at 10:00 a.m, 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. (except major holidays). There is no cost for admission or for the tour.