Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gargoyles & Grotesques

Last weekend was the annual Flower Mart at the Washington National Cathedral.  We try to go every year, and it's not just flowers - it's more of a festival with food, music and cultural performances, shopping, and rides for the kids.










The Cathedral also offered Tower Climbs, something I've always wanted to do - climbing up the 333 steps to the bell chamber of the central tower, which is 300 feet above ground, one of the highest points in the city.  They haven't been scheduled very frequently since that freak earthquake we had back in 2011, but I was too distracted by a new offering this year, a buttress tour of the gargoyles and grotesques.  There's an outdoor gutter walkway that gives the best views of these whimsical architectural creatures, and for only $5, I couldn't pass it up.


Take an elevator up to the observation area on the 7th floor (that little row of windows just above the bottom of the picture above), and you can have amazing views of the city.   Walk up one more flight, and you are out in the open air, high above the city. Breathtaking!







Gargoyles are part of the gutter system, directing rain away from the limestone walls, while grotesques are purely decorative.  All gargoyles are grotesques, but not all grotesques are gargoyles. Some of them are right at eye level, and others are pretty high.  Luckily I brought my zoom lens. 



Lots of animals, plenty of angels.





And many other things ranging from fanciful to kind of freaky.









One of the most famous grotesques is none other than Darth Vader himself, strategically placed on the dark side of the Cathedral.  I know it's already the May 7th, but I did post this picture on social media on what has come to be known at Star Wars Day.  May the 4th be with you!


They dropped the ball on this sign, though.  It really should say "Luke, I am above you."



There really wasn't too much above us!  We were right there practically on the roof!  So glad I chose this tour, but I still need to get myself on a Tower Climb soon.




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