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“Beautiful” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Memorial Church of Stanford University

The Memorial Church of Stanford University
Palo Alto, CA
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Ranked #2 of 19 Attractions in Palo Alto
Type: Religious Sites, Cultural
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Attraction details
Owner description: This Romanesque church sits in the most historic section of campus, the main quadrangle.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
172 reviews 172 reviews
48 attraction reviews
Reviews in 46 cities Reviews in 46 cities
202 helpful votes 202 helpful votes
“Beautiful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2014

This church is quite magnificent, to say the least. Hopefully you'll get there on a day when the labyrinth is available!

Visited December 2013
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109 reviews from our community

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Saint Paul, Minnesota
Top Contributor
555 reviews 555 reviews
453 attraction reviews
Reviews in 120 cities Reviews in 120 cities
1,147 helpful votes 1,147 helpful votes
“Glory of Angels: composite review of three visits in thirteen months.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2013

It is impossible to miss the Memorial Church when you visit the Stanford campus, and that's not such a bad thing. Located at the end of the central axis of the University, the walk down Palm Drive to get here is admittedly part of enjoying the experience. While the church isn’t the biggest structure around, once you pass through the Main Quad it’s obvious this isn’t just another administrative office on school grounds. Fortunately, there are a number of opportunities for a visitor to appreciate it which include docent-led tours (every Friday and the last Sunday of the month), a self-guided exploration found on the departmental website, and finally actual services of public worship at various times during the week. I was fortunate to experience all of these in my three visits to campus and my understanding of the church and the history behind it increased with every occurrence.

I found myself appreciating the church on several levels. The first was simply on its artistic merits. Creatively, the memorable aspects of the Memorial Church are many and roughly divided into the categories of stained-glass windows, intricate carvings in the sandstone, and numerous interior mosaics. While not practical to review all of these in detail, the highlight for me was mosaic of The Last Supper behind the altar, which is based on a fresco in the Sistine Chapel and approved by Pope Pius XIII for incorporation via a different medium into its current locale. Second, the history behind the structure is quite unique. This includes the length of the construction (disrupted by an earthquake, it took nearly 18 years to finish) and the role the Stanford family played in its production. Lastly, I attended two interfaith assemblies here at 10:00 on Sunday mornings. Being an avid agnostic but full-time enthusiast, these were quite memorable and proved that the space can be valued on a practical level as well. Maybe the best compliment I can give the Memorial Church is that it lured me into attending Mass for the first time in over 20 years!

In whatever fashion one chooses, a visit here can be a worthwhile experience. My only suggestion is that you may miss out on many of the interesting aspects of the church and its history if you just passively walk through it. Using the self-guided visit, attending a scheduled tour, or even purchasing a book on the building at the Stanford bookstore will maximize your understanding and appreciation.

Visited November 2013
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Palo Alto, California
Top Contributor
126 reviews 126 reviews
28 attraction reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
“A wonderful way to spend the afternoon in Palo Alto”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2013

Stanford campus is a beautiful place to stroll around. I especially like walking in from the "quad" at the end of Palm Drive. The student union, Tressador is an interesting place for coffee and a snack and the book store has lots of treasures in it

Visited September 2013
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Silicon Valley
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
“Christmas Eve Service”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2013

The church's ceiling and layout of the chapel is very impressive. The approach from the quad and the foyer of the church are very open and welcoming.

Visited December 2012
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Palo Alto, California
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Never tire of visiting”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2013

Mem Chu, as it is called locally, is marvelous. Not the overwhelming marble pillars of Italy, but lovely and accessible stained glass windows and fine decorative touches. I never tire of showing this marvelous church to guests. Although not a religious church goer, I love to hear an organ concert or two, and to go to the Christmas Eve service.

Visited November 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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