The Palos Verdes Peninsula is a square-shaped peninsula of 16,000 acres, an elite residential enclave in the mold of Malibu. It was planned and landscaped by John and Frederick Olmsted in the 1920s. It is one of Southern California’s most impressive areas, dominated by nature.
The main attraction of the Palos Verdes Peninsula is the Wayfarer’s Chapel perched among the peninsula’s rugged cliffs and craggy terrain. It is a modern tribute to the Almighty, constructed uniquely using wood, stone, and glass and set in the middle of lush trees and acres of verdant gardens.
The chapel was designed by Lloyd Wright who was inspired by an experience he had while in a grove of redwoods. After the chapel was completed in 1949, Wright explained the rationale for his design: “I want the trees and their trunks to be seen, and the space beyond, so that those who worship in the sanctuary will perceive the grandeur of the world around them... I used glass so that the walls and roof are transparent. The trees, the natural growth, the sky and the sea beyond become part of the chapel.” Wright was successful in achieving his goal. He crafted the baptismal front using a chunk of native stone resembling that used for the walls.
Inside the chapel, stone and glass are used everywhere. Plants flourish inside and beyond the transparent walls, achieving the single concept of a unified exterior and interior sought by Wright. There is a twisted toyon tree framed within a glass circle that is located beyond the altar, which itself is capped with a naturally-occurring Palos Verdes stone.
The chapel has a meadow-like front lawn that peers over a bluff called the “Portuguese Point” and gazes intently at the blue Pacific Ocean. The point is a favorite setting for wedding portraits. The tower-like chapel stands 50 feet (15 meters) high and houses a 16-bell carillon that chimes every hour in Westminster fashion. Several benches are found behind the building alongside a hillside stream, giving visitors a perfect place to enjoy a quiet moment.
The chapel is open everyday for prayer and meditation. Fewer visitors come on weekdays than on weekends. It is located at 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South.
Baker, Christopher, Judy Wade, and Morten Strange. California. New York: Macmillan General Reference, 1994. ISBN: 0671879065.
Dickey, Jeff. Los Angeles, 3rd Edition. Rough Guides, 2003. ISBN: 1843530589.
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