Architecture Highlights: Smithsonian Castle, Washington D.C.

A castle in the United States? Well, kind of. The proper name of this building is Smithsonian Institution Building, but it’s more well-known by its nickname: Smithsonian Castle.

We’ve started this photo essay series to show you the best pieces of architecture from all over the world and we start with Smithsonian, this unique castle of the US capital.

Short intro: what’s this thing between us and architecture?

Smithsonian Castle, Washington D.C.

The thing is that we love architecture. In spite of the fact that we have zero background in it – though our travels have changed that a bit. And this love should be expressed somehow – after all, could you imagine a poet not writing poems to the love of his life? Our way of expression is photography and a little bit of storytelling.

Buildings are an important part of our sightseeing tour in any city or town and both classical and modern masterpieces can impress us. And by ‘masterpiece’ we don’t only mean churches, castles, skyscrapers, museums and all those which were planned to impress (beside their other functions, of course), but we also mean anything beautiful, unique, creative or interesting what catches our attention and steals our heart.

Smithsonian Castle, Washington D.C.

For us Europe is the ‘architecture wonderland’. And that’s why we start with a non-European building, because the world is big and it has a lot to offer outside of Europe, too. 🙂

Why has Smithsonian impressed us?

We love castles is general and Smithsonian Castle is a beautiful one. But there’s another thing about it which is even more impressive: it’s a mixture of a classical castle and one of the most modern visitor centers we’ve ever seen.

Smithsonian Castle, Washington D.C.

This castle houses the administrative offices of the Smithsonian and it’s home to the main visitor center as well: interactive displays and maps, computers electronically helping to plan your visit in Smithsonian’s several museums and answering your most common questions. And all that matches so well with the amazing castle interior.

It’s quite a well-designed visitor center and quite a well-designed castle which also includes several different and exotic castle gardens. To design a place like this: yeah, that’s what we call art.

Interesting facts

Smithsonian Castle, Washington D.C.

Smithsonian Castle is constructed of red sandstone in the Norman style which is a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs. It was completed in 1855 and nowadays it’s a significant building of the National Mall.

The Smithsonian Institute was developed thanks to a gift of $500,000 from James Smithson.

Smithsonian Castle, Washington D.C.

Smithsonian Castle was designed by architect James Renwick, Jr. Renwick was a successful American architect in the 19th century and his best-known building is St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Are you interested in architecture? Do you have favorite buildings?


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