The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, housed in one of the largest office buildings in the world. Located in Washington DC, it is composed of five wedge-shaped sections and houses 30,000 military and civilian employees.
The Pentagon is a city unto itself, and its distinctive 5-sided building lays claim to six ZIP codes. Designed by American architect George Bergstrom and dedicated in 1943, the grounds are home to the 2-acre (0.80-hectare) Pentagon Memorial.
A walking tour of the Pentagon covers 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) over the course of an hour and highlights the missions and accomplishments of the Armed Services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Staff. Many tours of Washington DC and Arlington stop at the Pentagon, whether you want to visit on a private or group tour. Hop-on, hop-off tours typically stop at the Pentagon along with DC highlights such as the White House, Jefferson Memorial, and US Capitol Building.
Things to Know Before You Go
- No photos, videos, or recordings are allowed during Pentagon tours.
- Travelers must exit the building directly after their tour concludes and are not allowed back into the Visitor Center.
- The Pentagon is accessible to wheelchair users, although they must travel with someone to assist them inside the building.
How to Get There
While guided tours and hop-on, hop-off buses are a good way to arrive at the Pentagon, travelers who arrive by car can park at the Pentagon City Mall and walk through the pedestrian tunnel (about a 10-minute walk). The Pentagon has its own Metrorail stop, serving the Blue and Yellow lines.
When to Get There
The building can sometimes be closed to visitors without notice, so it’s a good idea to check ahead of time. For scheduled tours, arrive at the security checkpoint at least an hour ahead of the tour start time. Be sure to explore the gift shop and Visitor Center, as you won’t be allowed back into these areas after your tour concludes.
The Pentagon Memorial
On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the west wall of the Pentagon, penetrating three of the five rings. The area hit was under renovation at the time, and many of the offices were empty, sparing countless lives. The area has since been repaired and is now flanked by the Memorial, which is open to the public 24 hours a day. This monument to the airplane attack honors the 184 victims, symbolized by illuminated granite benches arranged in order of their ages: 3 to 71.