In a city with any number of scenic vantage points, there are a few that stand out head and shoulders above others. One is the Washington National Cathedral. The views from the Cathedral afford a spectacular view of the downtown and monumental core of the city, notable landmarks, and built-up areas of around town, such as Bethesda and Silver Spring, MD, and the Rosslyn-Courthouse-Ballston corridor on the Virginia side. The Cathedral is situated on one of the highest points in Washington, which happens to be a mere ~400 ft above sea level. But because the lowest point in Washington is sea level, the difference of a few hundred feet in elevation affords some pretty nice views around the area.
What many visitors to the Cathedral overlook (including myself, until quite recently) is that there is a little indoor observatory on the west side of the Cathedral. It’s just over halfway up the two towers of the west side (right hand side) in the photo below. The added elevation of ~120 feet really makes this a really special view, because in addition to seeing all those famous Washington sites, you can also see the surrounding neighborhoods and other landmarks off the Mall.
I make a point of writing about the Cathedral and the views from there because it embodies the essence of what this blog is about, -specifically place and perspective. The Cathedral occupies a very special place in Washington, because of it’s location on prominent topography and the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood off upper Wisconsin Avenue. It’s even more special when you consider the atmosphere and imposing stature of the Cathedral building itself. It’s a humbling and awe-inspiring experience unique to this place. And there are multiple dimensions to the Cathedral that include the views of the city and neighborhoods, as well as all the assorted chapels apses, naves, balconies, buttresses, columns, and so forth that make up the building. These architectural features combine to make up hundreds of unique perspectives inside and outside of the Cathedral.