Photo Tour: Return to The Washington Monument

We’ve reached the final stop on Julie O’Connor’s Magical, Mystical, Masonic Photo Tour of Washington, DC.

View from the base of the Washington Monument (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)

It is the end of Chapter 128. Mal’akh is dead and Peter Solomon has decided it is time to show Robert Langdon the true location of the Lost Word. Peter begins by taking a blindfolded Langdon to the top of the Washington Monument:

Robert Langdon stood mesmerized at the glass portal, absorbing the power of the landscape below him. Having ascended unknowingly hundreds of feet in the air, he was now admiring one of the most spectacular vistas he had ever seen.

The shining dome of the US Capitol rose like a mountain at the east end of the National Mall. On either side of the building, two parallel lines of light stretched towards him . . . the illuminated facades of the Smithsonian museums . . . beacons of art, history, science, culture.

A ground-level view of the White House at night with the Washington Monument in the background (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)

Langdon is 555 feet in the air. Below, deep underground, is the cornerstone of the Washington Monument, which holds the Lost Word–the Bible.

As we have previously discussed, the cornerstone of the Washington Monument contains much more than just a bible. But for Dan Brown, the key to understanding the Ancient Mysteries is the idea that hidden within religious texts, the authors are “quietly whispering the exact same message…Know ye not that ye are gods.” (A theme we discuss in detail here.)

Following his epiphany at the Washington Monument, Langdon returns to the Capitol where he meets Katherine. Together they ascend to a circular catwalk close to the Rotunda ceiling. There, they are instructed to wait until an appointed time, when they may use a special key to open a small metal door. In the meantime, Langdon and Katherine examine Brumidi’s Apotheosis of Washington (covered here on our photo tour).

Finally, the hour arrives. Langdon walks through the door and finds himself on a skywalk that encircles the Capitol Dome. Standing outside, at dawn, he and Katherine watch the sun rise over the city. Meanwhile, Langdon’s gaze is drawn to the Washington Monument.

He thought about the great circumpunct, and how it had been embedded in the circular plaza beneath the monument at the crossroads of America. Langdon thought suddenly of the little stone box Peter had entrusted to him. The cube, he now realized, had unhinged and opened to form the same exact geometrical form–a cross with a circumpunct at its center. Langdon had to laugh. Even that little box was hinting at this crossroads.

Circumpunct at the Washington Monument (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)

But the circumpunct quickly becomes a distraction for the main event, the sun’s ascent over the tip of the Washington Monument itself.

“Robert, look” Katherine pointed to the top of the monument.
Langdon lifted his gaze but saw nothing.
Then, staring more intently, he glimpsed it.
Across the Mall, a tiny speck of golden sunlight was glinting off the highest tip of the towering obelisk. The shining pinpoint grew quickly brighter, more radiant, gleaming on the capstone’s aluminum peak. Langdon watched in wonder as the light transformed into a beacon that hovered above the shadowed city. He pictured the tiny engraving on the east-facing side of the aluminum tip and realized to his amazement that the first ray of sunlight to hit the nation’s capital, every single day, did so by illuminating two words:
Laus Deo.

The Sun and the Washington Monument (© Julie O'Connor, 2009)

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