Monday, May 4, 2015


Although I've lived in the DC area since 1982, I'd never been to the National Cathedral until last week.  I'm not sure exactly why this fascinating attraction had never made it to the top of my "to visit" list; I suppose it was an over-exposure to ecclesiastical buildings in my youth.  When I learned that a fellow librarian (who is also a docent at the Cathedral) was offering a special "librarians only" tour of the Cathedral's gargoyles and grotesques, I decided to put aside my religious skepticism in order to participate in a "once in a lifetime" tour.

In addition to the informative presentation that makes up all gargoyle tours, and allows close-up views of the gargoyles, courtesy of PowerPoint, we were able to go out onto what were termed "balconies" in order to see the carvings in situ.  The balconies are actually maintenance access paths, which slope downwards to allow water runoff; at seven stories high, they're not for those fearful of heights!

We walked around, amidst cold and wind, and were rewarded with spectacular views, both of the city and of the church's carvings.   Often in single file and squeezing through narrow arches, I'm glad I did it, but am not chomping at the bit to do it again.  We made our way to the ground via an internal staircase not open to the public, allowing us to see some lovely stained glass windows.  Around the outside of the church, we looked at additional gargoyles and marveled at just how high up we had been.

If you are headed to the National Cathedral, I recommend a gargoyle tour (which includes the presentation and the views on the ground), and if you can get on one of Andrew Martin's tours, all the better.

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