If you are a tourist or a local (or a local with tourist like tendencies like me), exploring DC by bike is a fun option. On a sunny and chilly Saturday we did exactly that. We hopped on our bikes for a little hometown exploration via the Metropolitan Branch Bike Trail heading towards the largest Roman Catholic church in North America. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is Byzantine-Romanesque in architecture style and one of the 10 largest churches in the world.
The first cornerstone was laid in 1920 and after years of dormancy (because of the Depression and WWII) the structure was completed in 1959. The interior’s exquisitely detailed mosaic decoration continues to this day. The final ornamentation – the interior dome mosaic – is expected to be completed in 2017.
Many Washingtonians know the iconic blue dome well. Many others in the states and abroad were introduced to the structure during past televised visits from Mother Theresa and papal visits – most recently by Pope Francis in 2015. The church is Roman Catholic but welcomes visitors and worshipers from all denominations. Interested in visiting? Free audio and guided tours daily are available daily.
The Basilica has over 70 chapels and oratories. Many are dedicated to a people or culture.
If you are visiting Washington, DC or are a local interested in learning more about this beautiful church you can visit 365 days a year. To plan a tour, you can find more information here.