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If you are planning to visit Washington D.C. you might want to include the Washington National Cathedral in your itinerary. The cathedral is not only a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture, but also a place of worship, history, culture and art. Here are some things you need to know before you go.

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The Washington National Cathedral, officially named the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington D.C., was founded in 1893 by an act of Congress. The first stone was laid in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and the last finial was placed in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush.

The cathedral took 83 years to complete, and involved the work of many architects, artists, craftsmen and donors. The cathedral has witnessed many significant events in American history, such as the funerals of Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, the memorial services for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford, and the prayer services for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The cathedral has also hosted many national and international leaders, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama.


Cultural Significance

The Washington National Cathedral is not only a national landmark, but also a symbol of the nation’s religious diversity and unity. The cathedral is affiliated with the Episcopal Church, but welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds to worship, learn and serve together.

The cathedral’s mission is to be a “house of prayer for all people” and a “spiritual home for the nation”. The cathedral hosts regular services, concerts, lectures, exhibitions and educational programs that reflect its inclusive and ecumenical vision. The cathedral also serves as a center for social justice and advocacy, supporting causes such as racial reconciliation, environmental stewardship, interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding.

Points of Interest

The Washington National Cathedral has many features that will awe and inspire visitors. Some of the highlights include:

The Great Rose Window

This is the largest stained glass window in the cathedral, measuring 26 feet in diameter. It depicts the creation story from Genesis, with God at the center surrounded by angels and creatures.

The Space Window

This is a unique stained glass window that contains a piece of lunar rock brought back by the Apollo 11 astronauts. It commemorates the first human landing on the moon in 1969.

The Bethlehem Chapel

This is the oldest part of the cathedral, where the foundation stone was laid in 1907. It contains a replica of the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.

The High Altar

This is the main altar of the cathedral, where most services are held. It is made of marble and limestone, and features a carved reredos depicting scenes from the life of Christ.

The Canterbury Pulpit

This is where most preachers deliver their sermons. It is carved from stone quarried at Canterbury Cathedral in England, where Thomas Becket was martyred in 1170.

The Children’s Chapel

This is a small chapel designed for children, with colorful stained glass windows, paintings and sculptures depicting stories from the Bible.

The Crypt

This is where some notable figures are buried or memorialized, such as President Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, Admiral George Dewey and Bishop Henry Yates Satterlee.

The Pilgrim Observation Gallery

This is where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Washington D.C. from 300 feet above ground level. It also features an exhibit on the history and construction of the cathedral


Interesting Facts

Here are some fun facts about the Washington National Cathedral:

  • It is the second-largest church building in the United States, after St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
  • It is the third-tallest building in Washington D.C., after the Washington Monument and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
  • It has over 200 stained glass windows, depicting scenes from the Bible, American history and culture.
  • It has over 1,000 grotesques and gargoyles adorning its exterior walls, including some whimsical ones such as Darth Vader, a raccoon and a crocodile.
  • It has over 10,000 pipes in its five organs, making it one of the largest musical instruments in the world.
  • It has a labyrinth on its nave floor, which is used for meditation and prayer.
  • It has a needlepoint kneeler project that involves over 2,000 volunteers who have stitched cushions for the pews since 1976.

Advice for Visitors

If you want to make the most of your visit to the Washington National Cathedral, here are some tips:

  • Check the cathedral’s website for the schedule of services, tours, concerts and events. You can also book tickets online for some of them.
  • Dress appropriately and respectfully for a place of worship. Avoid wearing hats, shorts, flip-flops or revealing clothing.
  • Be mindful of the cathedral’s rules and etiquette. Do not touch, lean on or climb on any of the artworks or furnishings. Do not take photos or videos during services or in restricted areas. Do not eat, drink or smoke inside the cathedral. Do not bring pets, except for service animals.
  • Be quiet and courteous to other visitors and staff. Do not talk loudly, use your phone or play music. Do not run, jump or skate in the cathedral.
  • Enjoy the beauty and spirituality of the cathedral. Take time to admire the details, listen to the music, light a candle, say a prayer or meditate.

When is it open

The Washington National Cathedral is open to the public from Monday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cathedral is closed on some holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The cathedral may also close for special events or inclement weather. Check the website for updates.

What to wear?

There is no formal dress code for visiting the Washington National Cathedral, but you should dress modestly and respectfully for a place of worship. Avoid wearing hats, shorts, flip-flops or revealing clothing. You may also want to bring a jacket or sweater, as the cathedral can be chilly inside.

Is it family-friendly?

Yes, the Washington National Cathedral is a family-friendly destination. There are many things for children to see and do, such as exploring the carvings, windows and chapels, listening to stories and music, playing in the gardens and participating in activities and programs. The cathedral also has a gift shop that sells books, toys and souvenirs for kids.

When is it best to visit?

The best time to visit the Washington National Cathedral depends on your preferences and interests. If you want to attend a service or hear the choir sing, you should check the schedule and plan accordingly. If you want to take a tour or see a concert, book your tickets and arrive early. If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy a quiet atmosphere, you should visit on weekdays or early mornings. If you want to see the cathedral in different lights and seasons, you should visit at different times of the year.


Trip drive through Washington D.C.: From Washington National Cathedral to Avesta Ketamine

Direction 1: Washington National Cathedral

3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington D.C. 20016, United States

  1. Head east on Woodley Rd NW toward 36th St NW (0.2 mi)
  2. Turn left onto 34th St NW (0.5 mi)
  3. Continue onto Reno Rd NW (0.2 mi)
  4. Turn right onto Tilden St NW (0.7 mi)
  5. Turn left onto Linnean Ave NW (0.2 mi)
  6. Turn right, Destination will be on the right (0.1 mi)

Direction 2: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

4155 Linnean Ave NW, Washington D.C. 20008, United States

  1. Take Linnean Ave NW to Tilden St NW (2 min, 0.3 mi)
    1. Head southwest toward Linnean Ave NW (0.1 mi)
    2. Turn left onto Linnean Ave NW (0.2 mi)
  2. Continue on Tilden St NW. Take 34th St NW to Observatory Cir NW (7 min, 1.9 mi)
    1. Turn right onto Tilden St NW (0.7 mi)
    2. Sharp left onto Reno Rd NW (0.3 mi)
    3. Continue onto 34th St NW (1.0 mi)
    4. Turn right onto Massachusetts Ave NW (240 ft)
  3. Continue on Observatory Cir NW to Wisconsin Ave NW (2 min, 0.4 mi)
    1. Turn left onto Observatory Cir NW (0.2 mi)
    2. Continue onto Calvert St NW (0.1 mi)
  4. Turn left onto Wisconsin Ave NW
  5. Pass by FedEx Office Print & Ship Center (on the right) (3 min, 0.6 mi)
  6. Continue on South St NW
  7. Drive to 32nd St NW (1 min, 0.2 mi)
    1. Turn left onto South St NW (0.2 mi)
    2. Turn right onto 32nd St NW
    3. Destination will be on the left (210 ft)

Direction 3: Dumbarton Oaks Museum

1703 32nd St NW, Washington D.C. 20007, United States

  1. Take 34th St NW to M St NW (5 min, 0.8 mi)
    1. Head south on 32nd St NW toward R St NW (154 ft)
    2. Turn right onto R St NW (0.2 mi)
    3. Turn left onto 34th St NW (0.6 mi)
  2. Take Francis Scott Key Bridge/Key Bridge, Fort Myer Dr/N Ft Myer Dr, I-66 E, Exit 75 and VA-110 S to N Marshall Dr in Arlington (4 min, 1.4 mi)
    1. Use the right 2 lanes to turn right onto M St NW (233 ft)
    2. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto Francis Scott Key Bridge/Key Bridge (Entering Virginia, 0.3 mi)
    3. Continue onto Fort Myer Dr/N Ft Myer Dr (0.2 mi)
    4. Turn left onto Langston Blvd (489 ft)
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to take the ramp to I-395/Roosevelt Brg (0.2 mi)
    6. Merge onto I-66 E (0.2 mi)
    7. Take exit 75 for VA-110 S toward I-395/US-1/Pentagon City/Crystal City/Reagan Nat’l Arpt/Alexandria (0.2 mi)
    8. Continue onto VA-110 S (0.2 mi)
  3. Follow N Marshall Dr to Iwo Jima Acc Rd/U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial Access Rd (21 sec, 456 ft)
    1. Turn right onto N Marshall Dr (417 ft)
    2. Turn right onto Iwo Jima Acc Rd/U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial Access Rd (39 ft)

Direction 4: US Marine Corps War Memorial

Arlington, VA 22209, United States

  1. Get on US-50 E/Arlington Blvd from N Marshall Dr and N Meade St (2 min, 0.6 mi)
    1. Head south on Iwo Jima Acc Rd/U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial Access Rd toward N Marshall Dr (39 ft)
    2. Turn right onto N Marshall Dr (0.2 mi)
    3. Turn right onto N Meade St (0.2 mi)
    4. Take the ramp onto US-50 E/Arlington Blvd (0.1 mi)
  2. Take I-66 E to L St NW in Washington D.C. (4 min, 1.8 mi)
    1. Merge onto US-50 E/Arlington Blvd (0.1 mi)
    2. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for US-50 E/Washington D.C. and merge onto I-66 E (Entering District of Columbia, 0.8 mi)
    3. Use the left lane to take the I-66 E exit toward E Street (0.1 mi)
    4. Keep left, follow signs for Whitehurst Freeway (453 ft)
    5. Continue onto I-66 E (0.4 mi)
    6. Use the right lane to take the Whitehurst Frwy exit (0.1 mi)
    7. Keep right, follow signs for Pennsylvania Avenue and merge onto L St NW (0.2 mi)
    8. L St NW turns right and becomes Pennsylvania Avenue NW (154 ft)
  3. Slight left onto L St NW (2 min, 0.2 mi)
  4. Turn left onto New Hampshire Ave NW (4 min, 0.5 mi)
  5. At Dupont Cir NW, take the 4th exit onto P St NW (4 min, 0.4 mi)
  6. Turn right onto 16th St NW (16 sec, 164 ft)
  7. Turn right, Destination will be on the right (5 sec, 69 ft)

Direction 5: Avesta Ketamine and Wellness

1400 16th St NW Suite 101, Washington D.C. 20036, United States


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