Standing tall in the middle of the United States Air Force Academy complex is one of Colorado’s most iconic structures, the Cadet Chapel. The Cadet Chapel, completed in 1963 and costing $3.5 million to build, initially received a lot of criticism for its unique and modern architectural design. It is now celebrated for its stunning appearance and has become a popular destination for tourists, military weddings, and as a place of sanctuary and worship for cadets on base in Colorado Springs. The Cadet Chapel houses worship space for four different religious groups, including Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Buddhists, in addition to an All-Faiths Room. You can spot the chapel from afar while driving along I-25 on the northern outskirts of Colorado Springs, or from above while hiking along the Eagle’s Peak Trail.
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Looking at the Cadet Chapel from the outside, the geometrical spectacle looks as if a paper origami structure turned life-size. Seventeen striking, 150-foot white pinnacles rise from the ground, each with 100-identical tetrahedrons. The pinnacles were constructed from aluminum, glass, and steel.
The largest of the four worship spaces, the Protestant Chapel, sits in the top level of the Cadet Chapel and can seat up to 1,200 people. Stunning features fill the chapel including a 99-foot-high vaulted ceiling lined, a 46-foot tall aluminum cross, a 15-foot marble altar shaped like a ship, and a sea of pews with ends modeled after WWI airplane propellers.
Beautiful stained-glass panels fill the Protestant Chapel. When Colorado’s sunshine hits the glass rectangles, stunning rainbows dance across the rows of pews.
At the back of the Protestant Chapel is gigantic classical pipe organ. The organ has 4,334 pipes, with the tallest reaching a height of 32 feet.
Lined with beautiful glass paneling and an intricate mosaic mural of the heavens, the 500-person Roman Catholic Chapel is located in the basement of the Cadet Chapel.
Can you spot the Cadet Chapel? After a strenuous 1.8 miles up the Eagle’s Peak Trail, hikers are rewarded with stunning views of the United States Air Force Academy and Pike’s Peak.
The Cadet Chapel is open for self-guided tours Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm. Groups of ten or more are able to request a guided tour.
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