Completed in September 2002 at a cost of $163 million and built to last 500 years, this ultracontemporary cathedral is one of L.A.'s newest architectural treasures and the third-largest cathedral in the world. It was designed by award-winning Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo and features a 20,000-square-foot plaza with a meditation garden, more than 6,000 crypts and niches (making it the largest crypt mausoleum in the U.S.), mission-style colonnades, biblically inspired gardens, and numerous artworks created by world-acclaimed artists. While most Angelenos admit that the exterior of this austere, sand-colored structure is rather uninspiring and uninviting (the church doors don't face the street, but rather a private plaza in back surrounded by fortresslike walls), the inside is breathtaking: Soaring heights, 12,000 panes of translucent alabaster, and larger-than-life tapestries lining the walls create an awe-inspiring sense of magnificence and serenity. The 25,000-pound bronze doors, created by sculptor Robert Graham, pay homage to Ghiberti's bronze baptistery door in Florence. Free self-guided tours are available, and there's a small cafe and gift shop as well.
Divine Vibrations -- Every Wednesday from 12:45 to 1:15pm, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels -- the city's $163-million architectural jewel -- hosts an organ recital that is open to the public and free of charge. The power of the 42-ton organ's 6,019 pipes makes the cathedral vibrate, enabling you to not only hear the music, but also feel it, making the experience physically poignant as well as emotionally moving. Be sure to call tel. 213/680-5200 to confirm the Wednesday recital.