The purpose of the cathedral was to be a “great church with a national purpose, equally open to all” and it has been the home to many memorial services, funerals and religious ceremonies. Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last Sunday sermon from the Washington National Cathedral in 1963 shortly before his assassination. Billy Graham preached there at the memorial service held after the 9/11 tragedy. The cathedral was begun under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal Church however defines its mission as ecumenical.
Construction of the cathedral began in 1907 and was completed in 1990 using only medieval construction techniques in keeping with its fourteenth century English Gothic design. Most likely it will be the last Gothic building attempted anywhere in the world as modern design and construction techniques make buildings like the cathedral prohibitively expensive and impractical to build (and they take too long to build; eighty-three years in this case).
It is difficult if not impossible to convey the sheer size of the cathedral and this shot of the main church entrance doesn’t do it justice even with the people on the entrance steps of the camera right doors.