What Is The Darth Vader Gargoyle At The National Cathedral?

Darth Vader is one of the most iconic antagonists in film, but despite his bad guy persona, he's one of the most popular characters in the "Star Wars" universe. Fans all over the world show their love for the Sith Lord by getting tattoos, collecting Darth Vader memorabilia, and creating artwork. In the city of Odessa in Ukraine, a monument of Vladimir Lenin was modified in 2015, and what was once a memorial to the Soviet leader is now a statue of Darth Vader that also serves as a Wi-Fi hotspot, as reported by Atlas Obscura. There is another tribute to the iconic character that can be found in Washington, D.C., and this one isn't as prominent as the one in Odessa. In fact, you need binoculars to spot it.

The Washington National Cathedral is a Gothic-style masterpiece located in Wisconsin Ave. Construction of the building started in 1907, and it was finally completed in 1990. The magnificent structure is made of limestone and boasts stained-glass windows, tall spires, and exquisite sculptures (via Washington). As is common with Gothic architecture, the exterior of the cathedral is decorated with gargoyles and grotesques, and one is of Darth Vader.

The story behind the Darth Vader grotesque

In the 1980s, parts of the Washington National Cathedral were in the middle of construction, and the National Geographic World magazine sponsored a contest titled "Draw-A-Grotesque." Children were asked to submit drawings of grotesques that will be added to the building, as reported by Mental Floss. Around 1,400 entries were submitted by children aged 8 to 13, and they came from 16 countries. The winner was a 12-year-old girl named Alison Garner, who drew a man with an umbrella to shield him from the rainwater. "I read that the rainwater drains out of the mouths of gargoyles, so I gave my grotesque an umbrella for protection," she said.

Aside from Garner's winning grotesque, runners-up were also chosen. The third-place winner, Christopher Rader, submitted a drawing of Darth Vader. "Darth Vader is a lot like a demon. He's evil, so I thought he would be a good choice," Rader explained. The judges agreed with Rader's remarks and said that Darth Vader is a great representation of evil. "Centuries ago, on old cathedrals, grotesques were intended to symbolize the evil that existed outside the church. Today, Darth Vader is an excellent example of evil in our times," a judge stated (via Gigazine).

In total, the Washington National Cathedral has 112 grotesques and gargoyles, and they offer gargoyle tours. Darth Vader is located on the corner of a gablet that sits between two pinnacles but is quite difficult to see without binoculars.