Washington D.C. is a hotspot for politics. But did you know that it has not only the White House but also some interesting sites for pilgrimage? Here are some of the sacred sites to visit next time you are there.
If you are wondering how to reach and where to stay in Washington D.C. check out the custom affiliate links below — I link you to my favorite and trusted websites that I use for booking trips myself. It is completely free for you and I get a small commission. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
Flight deals to Washington D.C. on Skyscanner.
Hotels and more for Washington D.C. on Booking.com.
Washington National Cathedral
Being the Gothic style Perl of the capital city of the USA, Washington National Cathedral, also known as Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, is a must-visit for pilgrims. The Cathedral offers three types of pilgrimages: half-day, one-hour tour and self-guided (more information on the official website). The Cathedral is huge and has lots of space for contemplation, including the beautiful gardens and many chapels. The Cathedral is open daily, admissions vary from 12$/ 8$/ 5$, free entrance on Sundays (see the visitors information). I visited the Cathedral myself in the fall of 2016 and without noticing spend there my whole day wondering it’s silent corners and admiring fascinating pieces of art.
And now time for fun facts about the Cathedral if you are still not convinced to visit it:
- The best time to visit the Washinton National Cathedral is a sunny day. The Cathedral has 215 stained-glass windows, including one with a rock from the Moon that was brought down to Earth by Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969. Those are definitely the most impressive in the sunlight.
- Another reason for a sunny day visit is the Cathedral tower, one of the highest points of D.C., that allows seeing the panorama of the capital and it’s surrounding neighborhoods.
- By the Cathedral they also have an amazing garden with many different plants and flowers.
- Darth Vader’s (from the epic “Star Wars”) head is one of 1242 gargoyles that decorate the outer Cathedral walls. You can find it on the north side wall.
Church of the Pilgrims
In the nearby district from the Washington National Cathedral, Dupont Circle, there is another pilgrimage related object – the Presbyterian Church of the Pilgrims. This particular church is interesting not for the building itself but for the community events and projects they are doing. As for visiting information, I only found their address; perhaps they can be contacted by e-mail or facebook for further information.
As a pilgrim, you can stay in their hostel and take part in the social pilgrimage by helping people in need during your stay there. The program is called The Pilgrimage and you can read more about it on their website. Yet, you can only take part in this program as a group of min 10 and max 40 people. It is a paid program but I like the idea of such involving pilgrimage.
Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America
Another place for pilgrimage or just for some peaceful time is located in the North-East part of Washington D.C. The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America has 42 acres of gardens with a trail in the theme of Creation in them. There are replicas of sacred chapels along the trail that gives an opportunity to walk a small pilgrimage on your own (opening times daily 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.) or take a free guided tour on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. in summer months. Besides gardens, you can also take the church and catacombs tour, or stay in a hermitage for a week-long solitude retreat. All information is on the monastery website.