Visit St Mary’s Cathedral | Sydney

I have always loved visiting churches. The architecture and the positive vibes in the churches have been my most favourite part of visiting them. Every church in the World has a huge history and planning behind them. And one such church that I love in Sydney is the St Mary’s Cathedral in the Sydney city.

View of St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
Exterior of the church

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St Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary’s Cathedral is a spiritual home for the Catholic community in Sydney. It is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in the Central Business District (CBD) of Sydney. The cathedral is around 180 years old and is dedicated to the “Immaculate Mother of God, Help of Christmas“. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.

The church remains the largest ecclesiastical building in the English Gothic style in the World.

A panoramic view of St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
A panoramic view of St Mary’s Cathedral | Sydney

History

The cathedral was built between the years of 1866 and 1928 and was designed by Australian civil engineer William Wilkinson Wardell. The church has gone through a series of events that make it even more special and important.

St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
Statue of St Mary of the Cross

The first church was built on the land given by Governor Macquarie in 1820 and was designed by Francis Greenway. Even though the first church was built between 1822 and 1828, the church had no roof till 1831 and the first mass was celebrated in December 1833. After the arrival of Bishop Polding in the year 1835, the church was elevated to the status of a cathedral. Unfortunately, in the year 1865, a fire destroyed the cathedral. Only the choir bells survived the fire.

The plans for constructing the new cathedral were immediately put in place and William Wardell used his grand Gothic-revival style for St Mary’s. The foundation was laid in the year 1868. The cathedral was officially opened in September 1900.

For a detailed series of events, refer to the St Mary’s Cathedral’s official website.

Did you know that St Mary’s Cathedral is built on the oldest continuous site of Catholic worship?

A carving in St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
View of the city from the south end of the church

Architecture

The building is of the English-style Gothic Revival architecture of the 19th century. As the definition of the architecture states, the church does have Gothic windows with pointed arches. It also has many decorative doors with carved details of the Gothic style.

Structure of St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
Windows in the church – Gothic style

The interiors of the church have high pitched roofs with roof lines that intersect with each other to form a cross. They also have delicate and decorative pieces of woodwork.

Interiors of St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
Interiors of the church

The cathedral is unusual in many ways, one being it is oriented in the north-south direction instead of east-west like the other structures in the World. The liturgical East front of the church is facing north and the West Front is facing the South.

It is the longest church in Australia.

St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
The South end of the church

How to get to St Mary’s Cathedral?

The St Mary’s Cathedral is located on St Mary’s Road/College Street, opposite the Hyde Park in the Sydney CBD. It is the longest and oldest sandstone building which is definitely hard to miss.

Public transport

The best way to reach the cathedral is via trains. The closest train station is the St James train station. The up-to-date and recent information on trains can be found on the Transport for New South Wales (NSW) website.

The fares on the trains and buses can be paid using either credit/debit or Opal cards. The Opal card is the transportation card in Sydney. It can be topped up at any kiosk at the train stations, online or via an Opal app. Using an Opal card gets some discounts on the fares.

Driving

One can drive to the cathedral. However, there is no parking at the site. The nearest parking is on St Mary’s Road and Cathedral Street. The parking in the city is expensive and costs somewhere between AUD 10 to 15.

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PIN for later reference - St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
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Visit and Cost

The cathedral is open to the public from Monday till Friday between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM. The entry into the cathedral is FREE. One can also opt for a guided tour of the church. There are tours organised by the church itself and they need to be prebooked by contacting them. More details can be found on the cathedral’s official website. If the tour is taken on Sunday, then the guided tour is FREE. However, if these guided tours are taken on weekdays, then there is a small fee that is charged.

It is important to pay respect and be silent when inside the church.

St Mary's Cathedral | Sydney
The towers from the exterior

Store and Cafe

  • Store – There is a store in the cathedral that is open between 10 AM and 5 PM Monday to Friday and reduced hours over the weekends.
  • Cafes and restaurants – There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the city, especially in the Town Hall and Martin Place area. There is also a café in Hyde Park.

Is Sydney safe for solo female travelers?

Sydney is definitely safe for all the tourists and travelers including female travelers. It is surely one of the safest cities in the World. And I have never had any issues traveling in the city. However, like any other city, it is best to trust your instinct and be cautious, especially at nights.

Closing notes

I would definitely recommend visiting this amazingly beautiful church when in Sydney. It is truly a landmark worth visiting which provides an awesome way to dive into a bit of the history of Sydney. Have you visited St Mary’s Cathedral? If yes, then what did you think and what did you like about it? Drop a comment.

For other things to do in Sydney, refer to my ultimate guide to visiting Sydney.

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