The Pentagon

The Pentagon is a large five-sided building located in Arlington County, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense and is one of the world's biggest office buildings, with over 6.5 million square feet of space and nearly 17.5 miles of corridors. The Pentagon was built during World War II, and the construction took just 16 months, from September 1941 to January 1943. It is named after its distinctive shape and is recognized as a symbol of the U.S. military's power and might.

The Pentagon is not only a working government facility but also a popular tourist destination. Public tours, however, are available to U.S. citizens only and require advance reservations. The tour provides visitors with information about the history of the U.S. military and the various departments and agencies housed within the Pentagon and includes a stop at the 9/11 Memorial Chapel, which honors the victims of the September 11, 2001, attack.

Related tours:

Why should you go?

  1. Explore a massive building. The Pentagon is one of the largest office buildings in the world, with miles of corridors and countless offices and workspaces. You can explore the building and get a sense of the scale and scope of the U.S. military's operations.
  2. Learn about U.S. military history. The Pentagon is a hub of U.S. military activity, and a tour of the building provides a unique opportunity to learn about the history and evolution of the U.S. military. You can see exhibits and displays that highlight key moments in military history and gain insight into the various roles and responsibilities of the Department of Defense.
  3. Honor the fallen. The 9/11 Memorial Chapel and other memorials at the Pentagon provide a solemn opportunity to honor the fallen and pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.
  4. Take advantage of free admission. Tours of the Pentagon are free of charge, making it an affordable and accessible destination for visitors of all backgrounds and budgets.
  5. Combine this visit with other attractions. The Pentagon is conveniently located just across the river from Washington, D.C., making it easy to visit as part of a larger trip to the nation's capital.

Best places to visit near the Pentagon

  • Arlington National Cemetery. Located just a short distance from the Pentagon, this national cemetery is the final resting place for over 400,000 military service members and their families.

  • Air Force Memorial. This striking memorial honors the men and women who have served in the United States Air Force and also provides wonderful views with the Pentagon in the background.

  • National Mall. Just 2 miles from the Pentagon, the National Mall is home to many of the nation's most iconic monuments and museums, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian museums.

  • The White House. Located a few miles from the Pentagon, the White House is a must-see for any tourist visiting Washington, D.C.

  • National Museum of American History. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, this museum offers visitors a chance to explore the history of the United States through a collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays.

  • United States Capitol. This historic building houses the offices of the United States Congress and is open for tours to the public.

  • Mount Vernon. The former home of George Washington is located just a short drive from the Pentagon and offers you a chance to explore the estate and gardens of the nation's first president.

  • The National Zoo. Operated by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo is home to over 2,100 animals representing almost 400 species. It is situated about 6 miles from the Pentagon.

  • Old Town Alexandria. About a 15-minute drive from the Pentagon, this charming historic district is home to many boutique shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the Torpedo Factory Art Center and the Carlyle House Historic Park.
  • 1
    What's the best way to see the Pentagon?

    As the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, the Pentagon is a highly secure facility. Public tours of the building are available on a limited basis for U.S. citizens on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, and there are strict rules and procedures that all visitors must follow.

    To see the Pentagon, you need to schedule a guided tour up to 3 months in advance through the Pentagon Tour Office website or by calling their phone number. The tour takes approximately 60 minutes and covers significant historical and political events that have taken place in the building. You are required to provide your personal information in advance and should bring a valid government-issued photo identification card. Cameras, backpacks, and other large bags are not permitted inside the building.

    The Pentagon is located in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. You can access the building by Metro or by car. You should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled tour time to go through security screening.
  • 2
    Are cell phones allowed in the Pentagon?

    Electronic devices, including but not limited to cell phones, are not permitted on Pentagon tours. You must leave your phones along with tablets, smartwatches, and other devices before entering the facilities.
  • 3
    Is it possible to take pictures in the Pentagon?
    It is not allowed to take pictures inside the Pentagon unless you have obtained prior permission from the authorities. The Pentagon is a highly secure military installation and has restrictions on photography and videography in certain areas for security reasons. If you are visiting the Pentagon as part of an official tour, you will be asked to leave your camera or smartphone at the entrance.
  • 4
    What are some interesting and unique facts about the Pentagon?
    • September 11 has a double significance for the Pentagon. Builders broke ground for the building on September 11, 1941, exactly 60 years before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    • At its completion in 1943, the Pentagon was the world’s largest office building. It has three times the floor space in the Empire State Building, 7,754 windows, and 26,000 employees, both military and civilian.