I hardly need to convince you of the grandeur or photogenic qualities of Washington, D.C.; the streets of the city itself are designed to do that on their own.

Pierre L’Enfant’s spokes-radiating-from-a-hub, converging-diagonals street layouts make it impossible to walk around the nation’s capital without catching far-off views of the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, or the Lincoln Memorial.

In my experience, those stately sights are best appreciated either shortly after sunrise or shortly before sunset: the so-called “magic hour” or “golden hour.” Most of the pictures below were taken then.

Golden, morning light streams through a mostly-empty Jefferson Memorial.
Morning sunlight pours through the columns of a quiet, mostly empty Jefferson Memorial.
Ben Franklin statue and grey stone building
Back in 2012, a statue of Benjamin Franklin and a phalanx of American flags guarded the entrance of the Old Post Office.
Cherry blossoms, Tidal Basin, Washington Monument
Cherry blossoms overhang the Tidal Basin on a sunny spring morning, with the Washington Monument in the distance.
Cherry Blossoms, Washington, D.C.
Cherry blossoms in bloom on the National Mall.
Lincoln Memorial in black and white
Morning at the Lincoln Memorial: the rising sun was quickly moving the light across the scene. A few more moments, and Honest Abe’s face was in shadow.

Close Up of Abraham Lincoln’s hands