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Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

400 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, DC 20017


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has become a spiritual home to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who journey here each year from every state and many foreign lands. Together, they symbolize the Church's catholicity - its universal nature. It is synonymous with the story of 20th-century Catholicism in the United States. Each of the more than 60 chapels and oratories represents some history of the multi-ethnic community that comprises the universal Church. The National Shrine is literally, "America's Patronal Church." When the United States' first Catholic bishop, John Carroll, placed the young nation under Mary's protection, he foretold the faith and devotion of its Catholics through ensuing generations - including those who conceived of and built the National Shrine, and those who visit it and support its ministry today. Every stone and artistic nuance of the Shrine proclaims our nation's relationship with Mary, a spiritual bond formalized in 1847 with Pope Pius IX's proclamation of Mary as "Patroness of the United States" under the title of her Immaculate Conception.

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Because the city was built from scratch, Washington's regular town plan is easy to grasp. Centered on Capitol Hill and its governmental monoliths, the District is divided into four quadrants - northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest. Dozens of broad avenues , all named after states, run diagonally across a standard grid of streets , meeting up at monumental traffic circles like Dupont Circle. North-south streets are numbered, east-west ones are lettered. There's no J Street, an intentional slight to early Supreme Court Justice John Jay, or X, Y or Z Street. I Street is often written Eye Street. Be sure to note the relevant two-letter code in any address (NW, NE, SW, SE), which shows its quadrant; 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW is a long way from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave SE.

Once in the city, stop at the DC Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center , Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sun noon-5pm; tel 202/328-4748), which can help with maps, tours, bookings and citywide information. Look for visitor information desks at the airports and Union Station. The White House Visitor Information Center , 1450 Pennsylvania Ave NW (daily 7.30am-4pm; tel 202/208-1631), supplies free maps and handy guides to museums and attractions; the most useful is the free Washington DC Visitors Guide .

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Popular Attractions
US Capitol Building
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Smithsonian Air-Space Museum
Lincoln Memorial
National Mall
Arlington National Cemetery
Mount Vernon Estate
Washington Monument

Featured Hotels
L'enfant Plaza Hotel
   Walk (.4 mi) to Smithsonian
 • Sofitel Lafayette Sq.
   Bold interiors/unstuffy appeal,
   close to White House
 • The Churchill Hotel
   Historic character, 3 blocks to
   DuPont Circle

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Must See Washington DC 2017
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