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Washington National Cathedral


Washington National Cathedral
What makes the USA’s second-largest church its most important?
With its roots stretching back to the birth of the United States of America and construction lasting 83 years, Washington National Cathedral – also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington – is the historical and spiritual heart of the nation.

A “great church for national purposes” was first proposed in 1791, 15 years after the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, during the ambitious construction of Washington, DC, as a purpose-built capital for the proud new nation of the United States of America.
Though proposed during the administration of the first US president, George Washington, the foundation stone (taken from Bethlehem) on the English-style neogothic cathedral was eventually laid down over a century later, on 29 September 1907 in the presence of the 26th US president, Theodore Roosevelt. It was only officially completed on 29 September 1990, when the last decorative finial stone was installed in the presence of the 41st president, George HW Bush (the father of George W Bush).
The end result is more than 152 metres (500 feet) long from west to east and its central tower is just under 92 metres (302 feet) tall, making Washington National Cathedral the world’s sixth-largest cathedral and the second largest in the United States.
Although the cathedral remained unfinished for much of the 20th century, the central Bethlehem Chapel was opened in 1912 for services, including the state funerals for presidents Dwight D Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, and memorials for several other US presidents.
Washington National Cathedral also held memorials for important figures such as the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, and former South African president Nelson Mandela, as well as during moments of national mourning such as the 11 September terrorist attacks in 2001 and the end of the Vietnam War.
Washington National Cathedral, Cathedral Church