Best Place to Feel Transcendent San Francisco 2001 - Grace Cathedral
Towering 174 feet above the crest of Nob Hill, this hushed, dramatic place of worship is Episcopal in origin but inclusive in its welcome. Wander about and marvel at the building's majestic flourishes: Beniamino Bufano's huge, outstretched black and beige St. Francis of Assisi; the 15th-century Greek icons and the 13th-century Spanish crucifix; the beautifully restored stained-glass windows. There are indoor and outdoor labyrinths, replicas of a 13th-century original at Chartres Cathedral, and the towers contain a 44-bell carillon (one of the bells is the biggest in the West at 6 tons). Every Thursday evening you can sit in the choir stalls for the Evensong prayer service, the 7,286-pipe Aeolian-Skinner organ abiding. The cathedral is suffused with friendly, peaceful spirits, including former visitors such as Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Duke Ellington, who premiered his first sacred concert here.