This basilica, one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in the Western Hemisphere, was dedicated in 1959. The architecture of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a mix of Romanesque and Byzantine styles. The Great Upper Church boasts fantastic mosaics, stained glass windows and individual chapels. The lower level Crypt Church is smaller and darker, but equally impressive in atmosphere and ornamentation. The basilica has a bookstore, gift shop and cafeteria.
A frequent site of nationally significant memorial services, the National Cathedral is open to worshipers of all denominations. Under construction for most of the 20th Century and completed and consecrated in 1990, this Gothic cathedral is Washington D.C.'s fourth-tallest structure. Flying buttresses, gargoyles, crypts, a 98-foot (30-meter) vaulted ceiling and intimate chapels contribute to this architectural masterpiece. The grounds invite exploration with curving walkways, well-kept hedges and spacious lawns.
Because of its close proximity to the White House, St John's has become known as the "Church of the Presidents." In fact, since its establishment in 1815, every chief executive has attended services here; some on a regular basis. Pew 54 has been designated the "Presidents Pew." It was designed by Henry LaTrobe, who also did the restoration of the U.S. Capitol and White House after the War of 1812. In the 1870s, the plain glass windows were gradually replaced with exquisitely crafted stained glass depicting presidents and other notable parishioners.