George Washington Masonic National Memorial
A bronze statue of Freemason and U.S. Founding Father George Washington presides over Memorial Hall in the George Washington Masonic Memorial
in Alexandria, Virginia
, a Washington, D.C., suburb.
Outside, a miniature pyramid, an important symbol to Freemasons, caps the circa-1930s building. Inside, among artifacts of George Washington's Masonic life and behind a white veil, is a "replica" of the Ark of the Covenant, built from descriptions in the Bible.
According to legend, a Christian military order called the Knights Templar took the ark from Jerusalem
in the Middle Ages. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, some conspiracy theorists maintain that the Knights Templar and the Freemasons are linked.
Though the Masonic memorial has been confirmed as a setting in The Lost Symbol,
Mark Tabbert, director of collections at the memorial, said he's unaware of any mysteries associated with the memorial that could have attracted Dan Brown's attention.
"Our building is open to the public seven days a week," Tabbert said. "If Dan Brown wants to find a mystery in it, we can't prevent him from doing that. But we're not presenting ourselves as mysterious."
More on the History and Symbols Behind Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol
"The Lost Symbol" and the Freemasons: 8 Myths Decoded
"LOST SYMBOL" PHOTOS: Real Places From Dan Brown's New Book
"LOST SYMBOL" PICTURES: Masonic Symbols Decoded
Photograph by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images