Monday, September 29, 2014

More of Old Town Alexandria - Summary

There are so many things to do and see in the Alexandria, VA area, not to mention the Washington, DC area, just minutes away, across the Potomac River. This post is a summary of a few more of the great sites in the historic Alexandria area, should you decide to plan a trip there in the future. If you missed my previous posts on tours of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and the Carlyle House Museum, links are provided at the end of this post.

Alexandria is easily navigable by car, and once you're in the downtown area, it is easy to walk or bike to get around. Public transportation is also available, and some hotels provide shuttle service to and from various sites in the downtown area.

The Torpedo Factory
At the water's edge of the Potomac River, Alexandria - Old Town Alexandria as it's often referred to - has revitalized its port area. What was once a Torpedo Factory prior to and during WWII has now been morphed into a hub for arts and crafts workshop and retail areas of juried artisans. It is three floors of rich talent and wares.
The port itself is the place to cruise to and from the town, back and forth to the DC areas of the National Mall and Georgetown. History is preserved within one area of the Torpedo Factory on third floor, well worth visiting. It is a room devoted to the articles found from archaeological digs that began in 1961 around the Lee Street Site area. Over two million items have been found, and many are on display - from wharves, taverns and Civil War sites. There's even an interactive display table of broken china pieces, wherein you can put the plates back together.

Walking Alexandria - Streets, Landscapes
King Street is the main drag in Alexandria, with the municipal square near the middle of most activity, and across the street from the Visitors' Center.  Walking through Alexandria is like walking through a royal court - you'll pass King, Queen, Prince, Duke Streets, as well as many other courtly titles along the way.
The side streets of Alexandria are not to be missed!  The town is also full of residences, in a brilliant display of urban renewal, co-existing alongside commercial sites.  Everywhere you turn there is a courtyard of residential privacy, carved out of historical architecture from the past.
The gates on these courtyards just beg for you to glimpse at what's behind them, as most of these residences are right along the street curbs. I snapped what I could without being too invasive.

Retail Therapy
King Street in Alexandria is also home to several retail stores, among which is Anthropologie. Visual displays in this retail chain showcase regional creative genius, unique to each store.  It is pure eye candy, and I love visiting, no matter what town it's in (we do not, unfortunately, have an Anthropologie in my town).
Mid-August display in Anthropologie retail store, Alexandria VA

Christ Church
More history can be found when you step into the house of worship of Christ Church at 118 N. Washington Street, Alexandria.
Christ Church, Alexandria VA
This Episcopal church was originally built by John Carlyle (the same merchant who built the Carlyle House), and finished in 1793. The church is designed in colonial style, and the interior is quaint. The exterior grounds include burial graves, including one mass grave commemorating prisoners of war who died during the Civil War.
The preaching pulpit (wine cup) and organ balcony
Many notable, historical people worshipped in this church. Pew number 60 is preserved as it would have been during the time in which George Washington's family worshipped here, in this same pew box. Other notable pews include number 46, which was reserved for Robert E. Lee's family. Today, the church has more than 2,400 members, and is open for tours without charge.
Plaque and pew, noting the honor of George Washington's place of worship
The documents flanking the pulpit are original to the church's construction, yellowed with age. They are the Ten Commandments on the left, and the Lord's Prayer and Apostles' Creed on the right.
Documents flanking the pulpit:  L, Ten Commandments; R, The Lord's Prayer and Apostles' Creed
Walking the streets of Alexandria brings about a deep sense of history and reverence in my opinion. To be able to visit the church where George Washington worshipped (Christ Church), tour the home where the seeds of the Revolution were planted in his mind (Carlyle House), and enter the social realm (Gadsby's Tavern) where he, as well as the next four presidents' dined - all of these stir a genuine sense of the history building of America - all worth seeing. Without a doubt, one of the most notable sites for all things George Washington would include a visit to Mount Vernon, also in Alexandria. Although not part of this most recent trip, we have explored this wonderful home of Washington on a prior visit.

So, in summary, Alexandria is a great place to go to unwind, have some fun, soak in a little (or a lot of) history, retail therapy and cultural activity. You never know where your path will lead!
Unwinding along the cobbled streets of Alexandria
If you'd like to get more information on the town and its activities, may I suggest you use this link, The Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, and explore the possibilities of your own visit. There's lots to explore!

Related posts:
The Carlyle House Museum - Alexandria
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum - Alexandria
Visiting Old Town Alexandria - on the town!
Treasures from the Trip to Alexandria

(NOTE:  This post is NOT sponsored. All opinions and photos are my own.)

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