Frequently Asked Questions: Scheduling a Tour
1. What time are the tours?
Tours begin on the hour, Monday through Saturday, at 10, 11am, and 1, 2, 3 p.m.
2. How long are tours?
Generally, a tour lasts from 45-60 minutes.
3. I cannot use the steps. Are you handicapped accessible?
The monastery church is handicapped accessible. But to visit the lower church, you must be able to use steps. There are more than 20 steps descending, several in the lower church, and at least 20 ascending.
4. My parents do not speak English. Do you give tours in Spanish?
Yes, tours can be given in Spanish. However, we ask for two weeks advance request to make arrangements.
5. Is there parking?
Yes, the Monastery has ample free parking in our parking lot across the street from the Church, 1400 Quincy Street. Buses must park on the street in front of the Monastery. The Security Guard will reserve spaces for buses on the street with parking cones.
6. How much walking is involved?
A fair amount of walking is required to see the upper and lower church. But if you do not want to walk much, you may sit in the church, which includes several replicas, and wait.
7. How far in advance do I need to make reservations?
Two weeks advance notice is required.
8. What is the dress code?
Respectful dress is required for the church. For summer, no short shorts or other inappropriate clothing is permitted.
9. Is there a charge for tours?
No, but a donation is greatly appreciated. Cash, or checks made payable to the Franciscan Monastery, may be deposited in the Tour Donation box. There is also a donation kiosk for credit card users next to the Tour Donation box.
10. Do you have a cafeteria?
No, the Monastery does not have a cafeteria for visitors.
11. Are there restaurants nearby?
There are several small restaurants and fast-food places within 10-15 minutes from the Monastery. The cafeteria of the Basilica of the National Shrine is 10 minutes away by car/tour bus. Union Station has a number of fast food and chain restaurants, and is 20 minutes away by car/tour bus.
12. What time do you close?
The church closes about 4:45 p.m. The last tour ends about 4 p.m.
13. What time do the gardens close?
The gardens close at 4:45 p.m.
14. Can I take photos in church and during the tour?
You may take photos for personal use in church. You may take photos during the tours, but without tripods. (Tripods require advance permission.) When taking photos during tours, you may not disturb the tour guide or other visitors, or you will be asked to stop taking photos.
Any photos for other-than-personal use require advance permission.
15. Is there a place to stay overnight at the Monastery?
No, there is no place for overnight visits.
16. What is the maximum number of people allowed on a tour?
The number of people allowed on a tour is at the discretion of the Franciscan Monastery. Generally, 30-40 people would be able to be accommodated. However, since most tour buses have room for 50 or so people, we try to work with each group on an “as-needed basis.”
17. Does a Franciscan friar give the tours?
Tours are given by Franciscan friars and by trained lay personnel, depending on the scheduling.
18. Is the Monastery accessible from the metro?
The Brookland Metro stop on the Red Line is several blocks away. From there, the #6 Fort Lincoln bus will take you directly in front of our building.
19. We are coming with our priest. Can he give the tour of the church and catacombs since he has been to the Holy Land and knows it well?
No, all tours must be given by one of the Tour Guides of the Monastery.
20. Can we have a picnic in the garden?
During your visit to the Monastery, you may have lunch in the garden. However, seating is limited, and there are no trash cans. You must dispose of the trash yourselves away from the Monastery. There are no picnic areas as such. The garden is a quiet spot for prayer and meditation.
21. Can you recommend a hotel near the Monastery?
There are no hotels near the Monastery. However, there are many hotels in the downtown area, in nearby College Park, and close to the Red Line metro stops.
22. Can I stop and pray at the shrines while on tour?
Since the tour requires a certain pace to be accomplished within the time frame allowed, it is not possible to stop and pray for long periods in the lower church. However, you are encouraged to offer short prayers at each shrine along the way, and to remain in a prayerful attitude during the entire visit.