Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral

Whenever I plan a schedule of 48 hours in DC type of length for my friends and family, I often have to leave out the Washington National Cathedral simply because it is out of the way. In 2009 however, when Lisa visited DC for the first time, we did make a point to take her here. It was our searching-for-the-lost-symbol tour right after we read “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown. Robert Langdon and Katherine Solomon sought refuge here as they looked for clues surrounding Masonic symbols while being chased by the CIA.

通常帶親朋好友在DC玩耍都會不得不捨棄華盛頓國家大教堂,它實在太不順路了,不過2009年Lisa來DC,我們因為大家都剛看完丹布朗的The Lost Symbol,DC之旅變成尋找失落的符號之旅,特地跑來Washington National Cathedral。羅伯蘭登和Katherine一邊解謎一邊躲避CIA的時候就是跑到這個教堂來避難。

Washington National Cathedral

Situated in the northwest DC near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue, the Washington National Cathedral is one of the most photogenic places in DC. It is the sixth largest cathedral around the world and the fourth tallest structure in DC. This gothic or neogothic style cathedral is a fun photography spot inside and out: its magnificent look, gothic structure and glass windows in the nave (the main level), and view of the cathedral from the Bishop Garden. The cathedral is the venue for funerals for three U.S. presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.


Lately the cathedral has been covered by scaffolding. The August 2011 earthquake damaged some gargoyles, pinnacles, carvings and flying buttresses. As of August 2013, they were looking at a cost of $26 million to repair and restore. You can donate online to help them restore the National Cathedral.


Some of the pinnacles that fell off from the building during the 2011 earthquake are on display in front of the cathedral.

Some of the pinnacles that fell off from the building during the 2011 earthquake are on display in front of the cathedral.

The construction impacts the interior as well. The vaulted ceiling of the nave is blocked by netting. However, with bright sunlight shining on glass windows, these dust clothes actually create beautiful dancing light.


Entry is free with a suggested admission of $10. You can just donate what you wish, if you’d like to, grab a map, and walk in. They offer several tours a day and provide a pamphlet of a “self-guided tour.” In addition to the regular 30-minute highlight tour, the cathedral also offers specialty tours such as gargoyle tour, behind the scenes, and tower climbs. However, these tours are very limited, some of them once a month, and reservation is either recommended or required. The tower climbs and gargoyle tours interest me the most. Should have gone to those when I lived in DC. At 300 feet above the ground in the tower, the view should be quite interesting. As of the grotesques, there are many interesting looking ones. Among all, on the northwest tower sits a Darth Vader grotesque. It is nearly impossible to see with naked eyes though.

參觀這個教堂免費,但有個建議門票/捐款十元美金,不過不像大都會美術館那樣自由捐獻但是因為真的要買門票所以有壓力,如果不想付錢的話,只要大方拿個簡介走進去就好。這裡每天有好幾場30分鐘的導覽,除此之外還提供幾個特別導覽,像是爬三四百階到其中一個高塔上、教堂細部導覽、或是雨漏導覽 (鐘樓怪人教堂兩側嘴巴噴水的那種怪獸),不過這些導覽場次都非常少,有些一個月只有一場,每年只有夏天有,而且大部分要先預約。華盛頓大教堂的雨漏們是找不同藝術家設計雕刻的,西北角有個達斯維達,不過從地面肉眼很難看清楚,而且達斯維達因為沒嘴巴可以噴水,所以其實只是裝飾。

One of "The Siblings."

One of “The Siblings.”

This is what you'd see if you shoot with a 200mm lens from the ground.

This is what you’d see if you shoot with a 200mm lens from the ground.

Don’t miss out on the architecture and view on the 7th floor. The best place to see landmarks of downtown DC is still the Washington Monument and the Old Post Office Pavilion observation deck. Yet the National Cathedral offers a view far away from the northwest.


View form the 7th floor.

View form the 7th floor. You can see the tiny Washington Monument.

The cathedral is not quite easy to get to. If you happen to be near the white house or in the mall, see if there is any bus stops of 31, 32 and 36 near you. Or you can take a cab and maybe drive through the Massachusetts Avenue to check out embassies on the Embassy Row. Before you go visit the cathedral, check their schedule. They ask tourists to not take pictures during eucharists.

華盛頓大教堂離其他景點都蠻遠,如果剛好在白宮或者the mall,可以查一下附近有沒有31, 32, 36號公車的站牌,或者可以坐計程車順便走Massachusetts Avenue經過一下看一下Embassy Row的各國大使館。去之前最好查一下教堂活動的時間表,他們在佈道禱告的時候室內不能照相。

Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016-5098

Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday open for services
Check the website for summer evening special hours

5 thoughts on “Washington National Cathedral

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  3. Pingback: The Bishop Garden of the Washington National Cathedral | Near and Far

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