National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

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400 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC, USA

National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Washington Reviews

Africancrab Africanc…
773 reviews
America's Patronal Church Jul 10, 2012
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is one of Washington’s Religious attractions. It is considered the patronal church and Marian Shrine of Catholics here in the United States. The construction of this magnificent shrine was a result of a petition put in by the rector of the catholic University of America, Bishop Thomas J. Shahan. In 1920 the Archbishop of Baltimore laid the foundation stone and by 1932 the Crypt Church was completed. It is my opinion that is is one of the most beautiful churches I have seen, besides the Duomo of Florence, Italy. The architects chosen for this noble task were Maginni and Walsh of Boston. The completed shrine was dedicated in 1959, it was elevated to the rank of a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

We arrived at the Basilica at a little after 1:00 pm. It was quite with as few as three couples present. We went through the main entrance and could not believe the sight of the interior that greeted us. We had just missed the guided tour by 30 minutes. We decided we would tour it without a guide anyway.

The interior is without a doubt the labor of love and dedication. With more than 70 chapels and oratories, you have not seen anything like it. The Crypt level has 43 chapels and oratories including the big crypt church. Service was being held by the time we descended to the crypt level for our tour. We did not attend service even though I was itching to do so (Alexander was restless). It was interesting to see the Byzantine Ruthenian, Our Mother of Africa and the chair that the current seating Pope used during his visit to the Shrine.

The upper level has 55 chapels and oratories. Each distinctively designed to honor the saint and reverence of a particular region. It also has the different stages in the life of Jesus including hi birth. Other dedications in the interior include the Presentation, Visitation, Annunciation, Agony in the Garden, Assumption of Mary, Scourging of Jesus, Crucifixion, and Incarnation. Those are just a few named. The amount of time, money and energy put into this shrine is unimaginable. We were all in awe.

Talk of the church being a sanctuary and a place of the spirit; I think there is way too many riches in the church for it to cater for the spiritual needs of the people. I felt the same way I felt when I visited the Basilica of St. Peters in Rome; empty. You do not feel the spirit. Too many distractions in the way of decorations that one does not pay attention to their prayers, and inner needs. At least that is what I felt like. That having been said, it is a beautiful church. A lot was put into it, I hope it gives back to the people as much as the people put into it.

I definitely recommended visiting it if you find yourself in the Washington area. Plan a trip to Washington, there is so much more to see. Even if you are not into churches, this one is a must see.

PS: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
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2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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Africancrab says:
It is amazing, you must see it in person.I was blown away.
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012
davidx says:
It sounds quite amazing!
Posted on: Jul 18, 2012
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HuBison HuBison
417 reviews
A great photo opp for tourist and a wonderful basilica for Catholics Jul 11, 2010
Parking spots are available as you drive up to the shrine, if not, come down the drive way and park on Harewood (side street) or in the lot across the street. On Sundays, parking rules are not in effect; if you park on the street or up on the Shrine parking lot during the week, you must pay the meter.

It is not metro accesible unless you want to take the red line to the Brookland/CUA metro stop and take a brief walk. I think there's a bus stop nearby off of Michigan Ave, but you will have to check.

If you are visiting, please respect the sanctuary; one of the most annoying things is for me to sit in mass and hear the click click click of cameras off to the sides. If you are visitng, try to coordinate with the mass schedule so you can walk freely without devoted Catholics giving you the stink-eye.

There is the main church and the lower church with the crypts. In addition, be sure to visit the gift shop and the book store (located on opposite sides of the cafeteria). A formal tour might be nice, but you might also want to wander around on your own accord.
View from the driveway
The first thing you see when you e…
The Basilica has a variety of chap…
Located in the lower church
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taberd1983 says:
Hey Sister - did you do the confession while visiting the Shrine? :)
Posted on: Jul 12, 2010
Andy99 Andy99
579 reviews
Visiting the National Shrine Feb 22, 2009
The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a landmark in Northeast Washington. The very large Catholic church is not a cathedral or a parish church. It was begun as a center for Catholic worship in the USA--a national church--and as a shrine to Mary. Regular daily services are held.

Construction began in 1920 but was interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II. Construction resumed in 1954 and the church was completed in 1959. (The Shrine celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.)

The architectural style is a mix of Romanesque and Byzantine influences. (Gothic architecture had already been claimed by the Episcopal Church's Washington Cathedral.) Everything is on a grand scale here and the Shrine is noted as one of the ten largest churches in the world. It is 459 ft (140 m) in length, 240 ft (73 m) wide at the transept, and the dome 108 ft (33 m) in diameter.

The interior is colorfully decorated in marble and Byzantine influenced mosaics. Dominating the ceiling of the apse is the mosaic titled Christ in Majesty. Numerous side chapels celebrate Mary in many manifestations and diverse ethnic traditions ranging from African to Vietnamese.

A cafeteria and gift shop are on the lower level as is a separate Crypt Church modeled after the Catacombs. The 329 ft (100 m) campanile houses a 56 bell carillon. Carillon recitals are given on Sunday afternoons.
Basilica of the National Shrine of…
National Shrine of the Immaculate …
Interior mosaics, National Shrine …
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