The National Cathedral Washington DC welcomes people of all faiths. People gather in this place of worship when times are sad and when times are good, while others embark on tours to discover this history of this grand edifice. Still, others come to enjoy the music or connect with all things spiritual. As much an active church as one of the top things to do in America's capital, the Washington DC Cathedral serves as resource for tourism and spiritual matters.
Built over the course of the twentieth century, the official name of the church is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Nestled among some of the last remaining old-growth forests in the entire city, the National Cathedral Washington DC is located in Olmsted Woods on the highest point in the city. This landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olsted, who is best known for his designs of New York City's Central Park and the landscaping at the US Capitol. The Gothic Episcopal design, while reminiscent of grand European cathedrals, has many distinctive elements. The National Cathedral facade was crafted out of Indiana limestone, chosen for both its look and durability.
Open year-round for tours and special events, the Washington DC Cathedral attracts a lot of visitors. During a guided tour, you'll have the chance to learn about the building's unique history and some of the major events that occurred here, and how the idea that began with President Washington took centuries to come to fruition. Whether you choose a guided tour or explore on your own, you can see where then-president Teddy Roosevelt gave the inaugural speech, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final sermon, and where mourners gathered for Reagan's state funeral. An audio guide is also available for those who would like guided narration and music with the opportunity for touring at their own pace. Cathedral officials said that they will begin charging a $10 fee for adults and $6 for children, seniors and military members in January. Admission will be free on Sundays, as well as on weekdays for those who visit to worship or pray.
As with other attractions, you could choose a quick tour or a more extended visit of the National Cathedral Washington DC, depending on your schedule and what piques your interest. If you're particularly interested in art and architecture, you'll want to spend time exploring the exhibits, which are found throughout the building. Each gives insight to as aspect of the cathedral's history, those who built it, or the important events that took place here over the years. At Christmastime, the annual creche exhibit draws from the collection of more than 500 Nativity sets.
Beyond the exhibits, you can simply look around to see the art, including the stained glass, sculptures, and other elements. The National Cathedral facade is known for its unique works of art, including a sculpture of Darth Vader (a youngster won a contest and chose the Star Wars character) and gargoyles. You'll also find windows, towers, and other elements, all with symbolic meaning at one of the Washington DC monuments dedicated to those of all faiths and viewpoints. Even if you never step inside, the National Cathedral facade will capture your attention as it's easy to spot from vantage points all around the city.
During events and holidays, as well as on ordinary days, you'll find music filling the soaring spaces of the Washington DC Cathedral. Organ recitals take place during average afternoons, while the organ is a centerpiece of Sunday worship services. The cathedral also is the only place in the United States (and the rest of North America) with both carillon and peal bells. Their dulcet tones can often be heard.