By: Nikki Bridges

My daughter is currently in eighth grade, soon to be embarking on an exciting class trip to Washington D.C.  The enthusiastic and fearless leader of the tour group held a meeting this week to prep the students and parents on the trip, and as he was listing some of the highlights he mentioned a visit to National Cathedral.  He suggested that the students check out this building online before the trip, as it was often one of the unexpected highlights of the tour.  So I decided to check it out for myself.

For those unfamiliar with this landmark, it is the second largest church in the United States and the highest point in all of Washington D.C.  Construction began in 1907, and it has the distinction of being the longest running construction project in Washington D.C. (Whew, I’m glad I wasn’t working on that project!)  It is a majestic Gothic-style cathedral, complete with flying buttresses, vaulted ceilings and pointed arches, so everything you would expect, right?  But there are a few things that make it uniquely fascinating.  It is a surprising mix of secular and religious, historic and modern, with a little bit of science and art thrown in for good measure.

In addition, there is a whimsical side to this landmark as well.  There are numerous “Easter Eggs” for those with a sharp eye, or for those who did their homework and know where to look!  The most notable is the Darth Vader gargoyle, a result of a National Geographic contest in the 1980’s.

I am hoping to be able to visit myself one day, but in the meantime, I will have to live vicariously through my daughter’s eighth grade eyes!