Sights & Activities

Hop the Globe on Embassy Row in Washington, DC

April 3, 2014

Photo courtesy of Jeri Gloge on Flickr Creative Commons

WASHINGTON, DC, US – Here at The Purple Passport, we’re pretty big fans of collecting as many stamps in our passports as possible. Aside from doing, say, a whirlwind Europe-in-10-days trip, we can’t think of a better way to collect a bunch of stamps in a short period of time than “Passport DC,” held on Embassy Row each May.

The event flings open the doors of the elegant foreign embassies clustered along Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Visitors can purchase a “Souvenir Passport” to get stamped at each embassy they visit on May 3. Over 40 embassies participate, from Afghanistan to Zambia, and food, music, and dance performances introduce “travelers” to the rainbow of foreign cultures represented. Of course, the passport stamps provided are not official, but the symbolic stamps sure are fun. Then, on May 10, the European Union embassies host their own open house, so you can hop from Denmark to Italy in a jiffy.

Even if you can’t make it in May, though, Embassy Row is worth a visit during a trip any time of year. The neighborhood of ritzy mansions makes a lovely backdrop for a family stroll or date with a sweetheart and offers a sense of history to boot. The Row began as a chichi enclave in the 1900s and then lost its elite status during the Great Depression, only to evolve into a glamorous district of foreign ministries in the years after World War II.

The architecture and landscaping are lovely, and the diplomatic crowd imparts a regal feel. Highlights include the constructivist architecture of the Finnish Embassy and the modern, marble-shelled Italian Embassy. Many of the embassies open their doors individually for public events including concerts, exhibitions, and lectures−check the websites of individual embassies for more information.

Aside from Passport DC, another of our favorite times on Embassy Row is Halloween. Many embassies get in the spirit by handing out culturally specific sweet goodies to costumed locals and university students. One Purple staffer once received a Mayan ruin made out of chocolate from the Guatemalan Embassy. Now that’s what we call good diplomacy!

Read more about Embassy Row in our Washington, DC Guide.

Embassy Row
Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC
Website
Map

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