Franciscan Monastery

Logan Circle, U Street & Columbia Heights

Also known as Mt St Sepulchre, the monastery offers serene grounds with 42 acres of tulips, dogwoods, cherry trees, roses – and some peculiar re-creations of venerated places. The Order of St Francis is charged with the guardianship of the Holy Land’s sacred sites, and it has interpreted that task in a unique – and broad – way here, constructing life-size, fake-granite replicas of the Tomb of Mary, Grotto at Lourdes and Stations of the Cross, among other shrines.

Inside the building the friars have reproduced the Roman Catacombs under the sanctuary floor. The dark, narrow passages wind past some fake tombs and the very real remains of Sts Innocent and Benignus; claustrophobes need not apply. You can walk around the church and grounds on your own, but the catacombs are accessible only on a guided tour (free; departs at 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm Monday through Saturday, and afternoons only on Sunday). The whole place is creepy and fascinating, like a holy Disneyland.

It is about a mile walk from the Metro station, through a mostly residential neighborhood.