St Mary's Cathedral

Situated next to Hyde Park, St. Mary's is the most important church in Sydney - it's also the longest in Australia.

TravelCurious Tip

The most impressive approach to St. Mary’s is via Hyde Park, from where you can get a real sense of the length of the nave and the height of the spires.

Situated adjacent to Hyde Park in the centre of Sydney, St. Mary’s Cathedral is the seat of the city’s archbishop and the most important church in Australia. It is also the longest, at an impressive 107 metres, and although it is neither the tallest nor the largest overall, its dominant appearance from all angles will still leave a lasting impression.

60 Years in the Making

After the original church was destroyed by a fire in 1865, work on the current building began the following year. Planned during an era of gold rush prosperity in Australia, the new cathedral was intended to reflect the country’s newfound power and increasing autonomy from the British Empire, and as such was ambitious, with plans for a huge nave and three towers. Though it began to be used for services in 1882, St. Mary’s was still unfinished at the time, and construction on the internal part of the nave did not even start until 1913. It was finally completed in 1928, some 60 years after construction began. If you look closely, you can make out a slight difference in the texture and colour of the sandstone on the internal walls which hints at the two-stage building process.

Showing Some Glass

Approaching St. Mary’s today, you will be struck by its dramatic architecture, which is some of the finest to have come out of the Gothic revival of the 19th century. Particularly impressive are the twin 75m towers, although strictly speaking these are not authentic – the spires were only added in the year 2000. One of the real highlights of a visit to St. Mary’s is the abundance of high-quality stained glass. There are approximately 40 separate windows depicting a variety of scenes, the best of which is the Downfall of Humanity in the main chancel window. Also worth a look is the realistic G.W. Lambert sculpture of The Unknown Soldier, which sits in the aisle.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Sydney
Hyde Park
An oasis of calm in Sydney's busy city centre, famed for its fig-lined avenues.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Covering almost 75 acres, Sydney's are celebrated as some of the best botanical gardens in the world.
Sydney Tower Eye
The tallest building in Sydney offers breathtaking 360 degree views of the city.
The Strand Arcade
This 19th century arcade is at the heart of downtown Sydney, and full of delightful boutique shops.
Sydney Town Hall
Built from local sandstone, Sydney's ornate town hall is a magnificent civic building.
State Library of NSW
Officially the oldest library in Australia, with a grand exterior to match its distinction.

Related Tours

Private Half Day Highlights of Sydney with local guide
You will start your tour at Circular Quay, famed as the main departure point for the city’s many ferries and also for the didgeridoo players close-by.  

Sydney Opera House

Your guide will lead you on a short walk to what is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the city: the iconic Sydney Opera House.  Set on a spit of land jutting out into Sydney Harbour, and opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II, this centre for performing arts has won international acclaim for its style and beauty.  You will visit the outside the Sydney Opera House and take a look out at the magnificent panoramic view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Downtown Sydney

Now heading inland, your guide will take you up Macquarie Street, stopping briefly to admire the State Library of New South Wales - the oldest public library in Australia.  At the end of Macquarie you’ll be faced by the lush greenery of Hyde Park, Sydney’s equivalent to Central Park in New York or the original Hyde Park in London.  Flanking one side of park is the imposing St. Mary’s Cathedral that is the current seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.

After a quick stop in the park, you’ll move across town through one of Sydney’s oldest shopping arcades, The Strand, before heading back to circular quay down high-rise George St.  This will be the perfect opportunity for your guide tell you the story of modern Sydney and how it has grown into the metropolis you see today.



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