St. Mary's Cathedral
The centre of faith for Sydney’s sizeable Catholic community, this Victorian era sanctuary is easily among the most impressive historic buildings in Sydney. St Mary’s Cathedral’s 75m high roof spires soar up towards the heavens and can be seen from almost every corner of the CBD. In actual fact, the spires weren’t added until 2000, but the cathedral’s beginnings date back to 1868, when the first foundations were laid. Construction went on for decades, and the cathedral wasn’t ostensibly completed until 1928.
Today, St Mary’s (which was granted the title of minor basilica by Pope Pius XI in 1932) is considered one of the finest examples of English-style, Gothic Revival religious architecture in the world.
The cathedral was constructed from local Sydney sandstone and stained glass windows shipped from Birmingham.
110 stairs lead up to the cathedral’s central bell tower, whose 14 bells are tolled at every Sunday mass by a volunteer bell ringer.
The cavernous, ornately decorated crypt (resting place of some of Australia’s most important Catholic leaders), is considered to be the jewel in St Mary’s crown. The highlight is the astonishingly beautiful terrazzo mosaic floor, depicting the biblical six days of creation.
The cathedral runs free guided tours every Sunday at noon following the 10:30am Solemn Choral Mass. Photos are permitted inside the Cathedral, except during services and liturgical celebrations.
Across the road, leafy Hyde Park is the oldest park in Australia and a welcoming green space in the heart of the city. It spans 16 hectares (40 acres) of manicured gardens, giant fig trees, a grand ornamental fountain and a historic ANZAC War Memorial.