Grace Cathedral

1100 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

The sight from many of the windows of The Scarlet Huntington is a surprising one, a French Gothic cathedral in this city on the western edge of the continent. After the largest Episcopal Church in San Francisco was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, construction on the cathedral began in 1928 and was completed in 1964. The soaring structure is somewhat of an oddity. It’s a place of serenity with a blue glow from its stained glass windows atop a hill that has long been synonymous with money and power in the history of the city. Even if you aren’t especially spiritually inclined, the Keith Haring AIDS chapel and the reproductions of Ghiberti’s Gates to Paradise (the originals are on the Baptistery in Florence) are worth checking out, as is the busy calendar of speakers and concerts. If you are especially curious about the cathedral, Joan Didion devotes an essay to it and James Pike, the man responsible for its completion, in The White Album—a must-read for California-bound travelers. Photo by Stephen Colebourne/Flickr.

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Nob Hill

Nob Hill is one of those places that feels quintessentially San Franciscan-- with its steep hills, city vistas, and trolley car rolling up and down its slopes. If you have a bit of extra cash, stay at the Fairmont, Standford, or Mark Hopkins Hotels at the top of the Hill. Each of these hotels have an interesting and unique history-- you can even see scorch marks from the 1906 Fire on the wall by the Stanford Hotel. Be sure to check out the doors on Grace Cathedral, they are a Nazi-made replica of the doors of the Florence Bapistry next to the Duomo. Rather, they are a replica of the Nazi-made replica because the first replica was deemed to valuable to be exposed to the elements. San Francisco fog is legendary for many reasons-- architectural deterioration is one of them.

Stained Glass on the Labyrinth

This modern cathedral is filled with life-affirming artifacts including this fantastic labyrinth. A short cable car ride or walk from Union Square, Grace Cathedral is a historic church in the picturesque neighborhood of Nob Hill. Outside you’ll find a mosaic labyrinth lined by gardens and fantastic views– a fun meander for everyone said to bring on a meditative state. The cathedral is also famed for it’s 7000 feet of stained glass windows, Ghiberti doors replicas and 44 bronze bells.

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