This Gothic cathedral, as dramatic as its European counterparts, blends both the spiritual and the profane in its architectural treasures. The stained-glass windows are stunning (check out the 'Space Window' with an imbedded lunar rock); you'll need binoculars to spy the Darth Vader gargoyle on the exterior. Specialized tours delve deeper into the esoteric; call or go online for the schedule. There's also an excellent cafe here.
The Episcopal diocese runs this house of worship, but it’s open to all faiths and creeds. Presidents attend multi-faith services following their inauguration, state funerals are hosted inside and this was where Martin Luther King Jr gave his last Sunday sermon. It took 82 years to build the edifice – Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1908, and construction didn’t technically stop until 1990. The cathedral provoked strong opposition early on, but the multi-faith character of worship helped mollify the arguments.
The building is neo-Gothic, but it’s embellished by distinctive American accents. In the main sanctuary, chapels honor Martin Luther King Jr (in the Kellogg Bay) and Abe Lincoln. Helen Keller and Woodrow Wilson, among others, are buried in the crypt. Themed tours ($15 to $25 including admission) take in all of the above; it’s a good idea to make advance bookings online in spring and summer.
Other highlights… Take the elevator to the tower overlook for expansive city views. Meander outside through the peaceful winding paths in the Bishop’s Garden. The 11:15am Sunday service features lovely choral music and a 10-bell peal of the carillon afterwards. Choristers sing Evensong at 5:30pm Monday to Friday (and 4pm on Sundays) during the school year.
The 2011 earthquake took a heavy toll on the cathedral (causing an estimated $26 million of damages). Repairs are underway, but visitors still have full access to the key areas of interest inside the cathedral.