If you love European art and style, you might be surprised to know how much of both you can find right in Washington, DC. In this mecca of American politics and history, there are many beautiful European touches to delight visitors.
Here are five lesser-known European-inspired monuments and artwork to add to your sightseeing list.
Do you love European sculpture? Antonio Canova was one of the finest sculptors in European history. His famous statues practically come alive in museums and churches like the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican, and the Hermitage Museum in Germany.
In Washington, DC, you can see a replica of a pair of lions he designed for the tomb of Pope Clement XIII in St. Peter's Basilica. Marvel at the sleeping and watchful lion pair, then go inside the Corcoran Gallery of Art to see works by European painters Renoir, Picasso, and Monet.
Van Ness Mausoleum
Designed by noted Washington, DC, architect George Hadfield, the mausoleum for Marcia Burns Van Ness is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture. Its round dome and Corinthian columns are modeled after the Temple of Vesta in Rome.
While travelers in Rome can only see a small portion of the Temple of Vesta that survives, you can see nearly the entire building as it would have looked by visiting the mausoleum in DC.
If the temple-like mausoleum whets your appetite, be sure to stop by the District of Columbia War Memorial in West Potomac Park. This well-preserved round structure is a popular site for photographers and even wedding couples.
Many visitors to ancient sites in Italy, Greece, and Great Britain love to see romantic ruins basking in the countryside. While the United States doesn't have many ethereal ruins, you can find some in DC. The front portico of the Capitol Building used to be supported by 24 Corinthian columns.
When they were removed in 1958 after architectural changes to the Capitol, no one quite knew what to do with the fine columns themselves. Fortunately, you can now visit them in a park setting in the Arboretum. With no roof or building to house, they have a ghostly appearance that's sure to delight photographers.
Court of Neptune Fountain
DC has several beautiful fountains that are reminiscent of many you see scattered throughout European cities. One of the best examples is if the Court of Neptune Fountain outside the Library of Congress. Neptune, God of the Sea, rules over the large sculpture group.
Alongside him are his sons blowing conches and sea nymphs riding horse–fish hybrids called hippocampi. They frolic in the water with pleasure and abandon.
If this fountain seems very European to you, it's because the young sculptor studied in France before winning the commission. The sculptures themselves are modeled on the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome.
If Europe's gorgeous fountains are your thing, be sure to visit the Bartholdi Fountain in the United States Botanic Garden. Designed by the same man who designed the Statue of Liberty, it's an expression of American Gilded Age style based on classic European statues.
The fountain was one of the first outdoor art installations in the area to be lit up at night. Today, it's still best seen in the moonlight even though it's been modernized to be more energy efficient and run for many years to come.
No matter what are your favorite parts of European architecture, style, and art, you can find examples without ever leaving the United States. Start planning your trip to DC by visiting the local tour experts at Jean's Bus Service Inc. We've been showing visitors all the best locations in the nation’s capital since 1980.