Sunday, June 02, 2013

Why You Ought to Visit DC


Oddly enough, there ARE reasons why you should visit Disneyland-on-the-Potomac. There's our wonderful National Zoo (no, not Congress, the other one), the National Mall (now with less police protection and trash collection, thanks to the Sequester), our wonderful array of museums (many still free or low cost*), and lots more.

Including the magnificent Washington National Cathedral**.

Yesterday Agnes and I met up with our friends Kathy (who blogs at Kathy's Peace) and Dick for a very pleasant lunch at 2 Amys Pizzeria in northwest DC, followed by a visit to the National Cathedral - just a short walk away.

The last time I visited the cathedral was in December of 2001, when I took Agnes's niece Lea (who was then an exchange student with a family in Texas, and in town for the holidays) to visit. This time, the weather was much nicer and the Bishop's Garden behind the cathedral was in full bloom. For those of you who don't visit my Facebook page, here are a few pictures to spark your desire to visit one of the most beautiful places in DC ...

This is a view of the cathedral as we approached it from Wisconsin Avenue. Sadly, there's a lot of scaffolding on many parts of the cathedral as they work to repair the damage caused by the August 2011 earthquake, so the symmetrical beauty of the architecture is a little marred ... but it's still a magnificent structure ...


As with all cathedrals, it has many beautiful stained glass windows, including the "Space Widow" that actually has an embedded piece of rock from the moon, returned on one of the Apollo missions. I couldn't get good pictures of the Space Window, but here are a few others ...



I liked this picture because it captured one of the beautiful rose windows and an extra - there's a lot of otherwise-ugly safety netting spread above the interior areas of the cathedral to catch pieces of stone that were loosened during the earthquake. In this picture, you can see the colored light from stained glass windows on the right spilling out onto the netting, adding some beauty to an otherwise jarring element ...


Outside the cathedral is the famous Bishop's Garden, a small, intricately-designed, beautiful garden of trees, flowers, and herbs of all sorts, filled with little niches and benches for quiet contemplation. The combination of floral and herb scents makes even the air beautiful. Here's Agnes at the entrance to the Bishop's Garden ... 


Inside the garden are many interconnected paths that wind through the various areas. This is an overview of part of the garden area ...


 And a closer look at one of the winding pathways ...


This structure is known as the Shadow House Gazebo - a cool, beautiful place to rest and contemplate your surroundings ...


This shows one of the many small statues that dot the garden, with the cathedral in the background. It occurred to me to wonder if the statue was designed to represent the bishop one finds in a chess set ... unfortunately, there was no sign to give us an idea ...


Another view of the Shadow House Gazebo, approaching it along a path lined with herbs and flowers ...


Another beautiful sculpture tucked away in a small nook - the return of the prodigal son ...


Another random pathway under the beautiful blue sky ...


Last picture ... this is the sweeping lawn outside the Bishop's Garden ...


Should you find yourselves in DC and need something to revive your spirits after a day of listening to Congress accomplish nothing but turning your tax dollars into shrill noise, there aren't many better places to go than the National Cathedral.

Just bring sunscreen, depending on the day.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

* Well, there's the $15 fee to park at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum, but we won't mention that.

** There is no charge to visit the cathedral, although they request a $10 donation. On-street parking is available but hit-or-miss, and there's an underground parking garage at the cathedral. It's pretty expensive during the week - $16 maximum fee for more than 2 hours, but a flat rate of $9 on Saturday. Plus your car stays in the shade, yee-HAH.

9 comments:

Amanda said...

That looks like a very peaceful place to visit.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

A beautiful setting in the most unexpected place. I'll visit it someday.

KathyA said...

I'm still awestruck by the reflection of the stained glass on the netting!!

So glad we did this impromptu tour. We should make this a monthly event: Linner and a tour!!

John Hill said...

I've been to DC on a couple of occasions, but never made this stop. It's on my list for a future visit.

Maybe I'll run into Angel...

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Did you wave to the Pope of DC from Pittsburgh while you were there?

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Beautiful Bill!
When we have guests come to our fair city they tend to want to see the same darn things. I am always guiding them in other directions such as a water tour, other museums not as popular etc. I will put this one on my list.
I can only see the American History Museum/Smithsonian so many times. :-)

Mike said...

When we were there Claudia's cousin took to some out of the way places.

Banana Oil said...

The Cathedral is magnificent! When is the best time to visit? I heard Washington gets extremely hot in summer.

Bilbo said...

Amanda - it is! When you and your family visit DC, I'll take you there.

Angel - it's worth the visit!

Kathy - a wonderful suggestion! I think we should definitely do it!

John - on the other hand, you might run into us. Not much of a consolation prize, but ...

Andrea - no. She was busy.

Peggy - it really is a wonderful place to visit, especially if your visitors have never been to a cathedral before. We've seen lots of cathedrals in Europe, and this one stands up to all of them.

Mike - I can only imagine ...

Kathy - Best time to visit is probably either spring or late summer. April thru June are probably good for the gardens, as is late September/early October. Most beastly months for us are July thru mid-September, when the heat will melt the fillings in your teeth. Be sure to come when the gardens are in bloom.