The National Cathedral Washington DC, A masterpiece in modern Gothic style architecture

Welcome to American Gothic. The National Cathedral is a superb homage to the Gothic architectural styles of the Middle Ages. There are flying buttresses and pointed arches aplenty. This is home to the highest point in Washington DC too – the Gloria in Excelsis Tower, which sits 676 feet (206 meters) above sea level.

You’ll find lots of works of art to marvel at while you’re here. There are over 200 stained glass windows, and there are memorials to important figures, like the statues of Washington and Lincoln. Look out for the placards in the marble floor as well, there’s one for every U.S. state.

A presidential cathedral

4 American Presidents had funerals here: Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Speaking of Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt laid the foundation stone, and George H. W. Bush oversaw the placing of the last finial.

Lots of space

Look out for the Space Window on the south aisle of the cathedral. It honors man’s landing on the moon, and there’s a piece of lunar rock at its center. Still on the space theme, take a look at the northwest tower. You might be able to spot a gargoyle of Darth Vader from Star Wars!

Other interesting facts about The National Cathedral

  • Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last Sunday sermon here before his assassination in 1968
  • It’s the 6th largest cathedral in the world, and the 2nd largest in the U.S., after Saint John’s in New York
  • It was built with intentional ‘flaws’ to be in keeping with the medieval custom that implied ‘Only God can be perfect’