Grace Cathedral : Michelin's recommendations
The third-largest Episcopal cathedral in the US anchors the crest of Nob Hill, its French Gothic spires soaring majestically over the city. Grace's cornerstone was laid in 1910 but construction did not begin until 1928; work was halted by the Great Depression and again by World War II. The Notre Dame-inspired design by Lewis P. Hobart was executed in steel-reinforced concrete to withstand seismic tremors. The church was finally consecrated in 1964.Set between the main entrance doors in the Gothic eastern portal, the bronze Gates of Paradise are the cathedral's most prized architectural feature. Duplicates of a set cast by Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (the originals adorn the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral Baptistry in Florence), the 16ft doors are divided into 10 richly ornamented panels illustrating scenes from the Old Testament. Inside the cathedral, dozens of stained-glass windows and murals depict a diversity of figures from saints to 20C luminaries, including Robert Frost, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Albert Einstein. The alterpiece, A Life of Christ, by painter Keith Haring, was dedicated in 1995. A magnificent 1934 Aeolian-Skinner organ resounds with 7,286 pipes. Two labyrinths invite exploration: a marble path to the right of the east entrance replicates the one in France's Chartres Cathedral, and a second Chartres-inspired maze is woven into a large carpet near a sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi.