If you picked up Dan Brown’s new best-selling thriller The Lost Symbol, you might have noticed a very interesting tangent in the mystery about the hidden carving of Darth Vader on the Washington National Cathedral.
In the 1980s, while the west towers were under construction, Washington National Cathedral held a decorative sculpture competition for children. Word of the competition was spread nationwide through National Geographic World Magazine. The third-place winner was Christopher Rader, with his drawing of that fearful villain, Darth Vader. The fierce head was sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter, carved by Patrick J. Plunkett, and placed high upon the northwest tower of the Cathedral.
First, bring binoculars! Darth Vader is very difficult to see by the naked eye. Leave the building through the ramp entrance at the northwest corner of the nave, through the double wooden doors of Lincoln Bay. Go down the ramp, and step into the parking lot. Then, turn around and look back up at the tower closest to you. Near the top of the tower is a gablet, or small peaked roof, located between the two huge louvered arches. At the bottom of each slope of this gablet is a carved grotesque. Darth Vader is on the north, or right-hand, side. There is a carved skull situated on a gablet much closer to the ground that many people often mistake for Darth Vader. From this skull, Darth Vader is up and to the left.
Download a PDF of the self-guided tour here.
Read more about it here:
Darth Vader: Star Wars Villain on the Northwest Tower