National Cathedral

Terms of Service:

Photos and videos may not be reposted or broadcast without the expressed written permission or license from Washington Mnemonic, and must attribute as the source.

Validate XHTML 1.0 Strict
and Css


Nerd's Guide to Finding Darth Vader at the National Cathedral

30 April 2013 | Written by Maxxum

It was 2009 when I read that a grotesque of Darth Vader was at the National Cathedral, but since at least 2003, more or less the same article has been circulating online of a National Geographic World Magazine (Now National Geographic Kids) contest that resulted in the installation of Darth Vader's likeness to the National Cathedral's facade during the 1990's.

I finally decided to visit, but ran into several problems in my attempt to find the Lord... Vader - so, I now present to you this handy guide.

Step One: Go here --> 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016. I find that being at the Cathedral is arguably the most important part. It should be noted that you can't park on the cathedral compound so don't try it, because the Devil's tow truck will appear and drag your car to hell.

Step Two: Approach the cathedral from the Wisconsin Avenue side; you'll see several buildings, but the most obvious one is here (click to enlarge):

Step Three:Enter the area underneath the three archways, indicated by the red arrow, turn to your right, and look in the direction of the green arrow (click to enlarge):

Step Three:From inside the archway, look to the top of the tower. Between to the two spires, you'll see a smaller spire. Look down until your eyes reach the area circled in red. You'll need binoculars, or a camera with a telephoto lens:

Zooming in a little, this is what you'll see:

I was using a 300mm (35mm equivalent) lens; to get a clearer view of Vader, you'll have to use a longer telephoto lens, or you can pixel-peep further using readily available software. Here is a digital zoom:

It's not necessary to photograph from the archways, but it's easier since you have more of the building blocking glare from sunlight. At 4pm in Februrary, the Sun was directly behind the spire you're trying to photograph - so, be aware of the Sun's position when you go during any other time of day and year.

Other things to keep in mind:

1. Don't challenge the priests to saber duels.

2. Don't wear Jedi/Sith cloaks, or Stormtrooper armor.

2. Don't ask about donating to the cathedral's Deathstar fund.

And, that's all there is to it.

End of line.

Photos by Maxxum