Must See DC : Washington National Cathedral
Make the Cathedral a stop on your visit to the nation’s capital. The Washington National Cathedral is open Monday through Friday from 10 am through the closing worship service at 5:30 pm, Saturday 10 am through worship at 4 pm. Sunday services begin at 7:45 am and the Cathedral closes following the 4 pm service. The Cathedral is located at 3101 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest in Washington DC, near many Washington DC hotels.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, it was ranked third on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects
Congress has designated the Washington National Cathedral as the “National House of Prayer”. During World War II, monthly services were held there “on behalf of a united people in a time of emergency”. Before and since, the building has hosted other major events, both religious and secular, that have drawn the attention of the American people.
Funerals for three American Presidents have been held at the cathedral:
- Dwight Eisenhower (1969): Eisenhower lay in repose at the cathedral before lying in state
- Ronald Reagan (2004)
- Gerald Ford
Memorial services were also held for presidents Warren G. Harding, William Taft, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S Truman, and Richard M. Nixon.
One year ago, the earth shook the foundations of our beloved Cathedral. In just seconds of seismic activity, the magnitude 5.8 quake—the strongest in the northeastern United States since 1897—sent several of the great finials of Washington National Cathedral tumbling to the ground.
In the 1980s, while the west towers were under construction, Washington National Cathedral held a decorative sculpture competition for children. Word of the competition was spread nationwide through National Geographic World Magazine. The third-place winner was Christopher Rader, with his drawing of that fearful villain, Darth Vader. The fierce head was sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter, carved by Patrick J. Plunkett, and placed high upon the northwest tower of the Cathedral. Darth Vader is very difficult to see by the naked eye. Leave the building through the ramp entrance which is through the wooden doors near the standing statue of Abraham Lincoln. Go down the ramp, and step onto the grass on your right. Then, turn around and look back up at the tower closest to you. Start at the top of the tower. There are two large pinnacles, or points, on the corners of the tower and a much smaller one in the center. Follow the center pinnacle down and find the first gablet, or tiny peaked roof. Darth Vader is the grotesque on the right on the north, or right-hand, side.
Upcoming Events at Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral plans to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with prayers at its regularly scheduled services that day, rather than hold a larger commemoration event.
NASA has scheduled a final farewell for the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. A national memorial service for the famed astronaut, who died Aug. 25, will be held at the Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 13.