Chapel of the Chimes is a magical place, part Gothic, and part Baroque with a hint of the morbidity of death surrounding the entire building. One can’t help but feel part of fictional story that is set in a kingdom far far away. The closest experience I’ve had to being in a medieval castle came a couple of month back earlier this year when on assignment for a commercial shoot. I knew of the Chapel for some time now having read about it in an editorial piece about a book based on the Chapel, I vaguely remembered that first image I saw of the Chapels interior, it was a vignette like portrait of one of the open air windows, photographed from one of the courtyards looking into another courtyard, framed by an intricately detailed archway. I knew that this was a place I had to visit.
Mostly comprised of a series of courtyards linked by series passageways, the interior columbarium is a tranquil setting and a pure eye candy experience for those fascinated with the ornate. The fountains that are scattered throughout the interior and adorn some of the courtyards provide a perfect focal point for the eye. Reminiscent of a setting from the Moorish world, the subtle sounds of the water running through the fountain helps set the mood for visitors. The Chapel of the Chimes is a beautiful menagerie of nooks, windows and passageways that are testament to the creative genius of Julia Morgan’s aesthetic. Possibly the most fascinating example of historic architecture in the Northern California area, the Chapel of the chimes is a treasure and experience that should be listed among the top places one should visit when visiting the Bay Area. And like all best things in life, a visit to the Chapel of the Chimes is free. Brown bag a lunch and if the Chapel inspires you to want to learn more about Morgan’s work, make the short trip over to the Berkeley Campus to see how Morgan was influential in forming Berkeley’s architectural identity.