A Gothic Cathedral in our Nation’s Capital
Architecture: Gothic beauty never gets old
The official name is the “Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington,” but it is more colloquially known as the “Washington National Cathedral.”
It’s a magnificent neo-Gothic structure modeled on 14th century English Gothic architecture. The National Cathedral is an Episcopal church located in the northwest corner of Washington DC.
Many confuse it with the Catholic Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which is located in the opposite corner (northeast) of our capital city and has a totally different architectural style (neo-Classic).
Several amazing facts about our nation’s cathedral:
Although envisioned as part of L’Enfant’s plans in 1792, it was only in 1893 that Congress granted a charter to the Episcopal Church to build a cathedral of national importance.
It wasn’t until 1907 that the cornerstone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Construction took nearly 80 years from cornerstone to finish, which was laid by George H.W. Bush as recently as 1990.
It is the second largest church in America (after St. John the Divine in NYC).
As much as I love the soaring Gothic arches, I’m most fascinated by two features of the Cathedral that you won’t find anywhere else in the world:
The stained glass window with a moon rock inserted into its center (it’s called the Space Window; the rock came from the Apollo 11 mission), and
The gargoyle of Darth Vader that adorns the north wall of the cathedral (it is said to be part of the rain control system as dripping water bounces off DV’s head!)
As they say, “only in America” is something like this possible.