Start your tour of Brookland at this Byzantine-style Roman Catholic Church, where you will see more than 75,000 square feet of colorful mosaics, including one of the world's largest of Jesus Christ in the North Apse of the Upper Church. The Basilica is the biggest Roman Catholic Church in the United States, with an Upper Church that seats 3,000 and a Lower Church that seats 300. It also has the world's vastest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art. Wander through about 70 chapels and oratories or sign up for an hour-long tour available several times each day (except during noon mass). The Basilica can get packed on Saturdays and Sundays, making weekdays a nice time to visit.
The national university of the Catholic Church in the U.S., and consequently located next to the National Shrine, CUA is “dedicated to advancing the dialogue between faith and reason.” It's also pretty beautiful: a walk around the 193-acre campus feels more like quiet suburbs than one of DC's lively and burgeoning neighborhoods. Take a rest on the steps of the McMahon building facing the Basilica, with which it shares a lawn. Self-guided walking tours are available at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center information desk.
Ever wanted to take a t'ai chi class? African dance? How about HoopDance? (that's right, moves with a hula hoop!) You can drop into any class at Dance Place for $15 or less. You can also watch performances – many are free – by community artists who live in dedicated lofts nearby. So go on, get your dance on between visits to some of the country's most historic and important places.
It was sort of by accident that the Very Reverend Charles Vassani established a “Holy Land in America” in Brookland after plans to do so on Staten Island, New York fell through in the late 19th century. Luckily for us found a wooded hilltop in northeast D.C., where he erected a huge wooden cross (now the Friars' Cemetery), renovated an old house, and put up a Byzantine-style church with the help of architect Aristide Leonori. Today, there are several artists-in-residence here. A garden guild maintains the property's beautifully manicured lawns, which surround a Rosary Portico of 15 chapels with the Angelic Greeting written in 200 languages. Individuals can drop-in for an hour-long tour to see Roman catacombs, shrines and relics from the original Holy Land. Groups of six or more must make reservations for tours at least two weeks in advance.
One of the most underrated and little known national monuments in D.C., this is the formerly rural place where President Abraham Lincoln spent a quarter of his presidency. Because the cottage was Lincoln's summer retreat, the visitor experience focuses Lincoln's psyche. After all, he was human, and grappled with moral issues like how to enact the Emancipation Proclamation. Before Lincoln resided here, the building was a home for retired and disabled veterans and the campus on which the cottage stands remains a military community. The cottage was restored in 2008 with the help of a $15 million grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.