St. Mary’s Cathedral Sydney. A beautiful landmark from every direction

This is a real gem. St. Mary’s is one of the world’s finest examples of English-style Gothic cathedrals. And it just happens to be in Australia and on our Sydney Bus Tour route. Over the years lots of local artists have added to the majesty of the building. It’s now overflowing with treasures of art, sculpture and stained glass.

The construction of St. Mary’s has been an ongoing labour of love since the first stone was laid in 1821. It has been razed by fires and rebuilt more than once, and the two graceful spires weren’t added until the year 2000. Does it remind you of another famous cathedral? That square front and rose window are based on the Notre Dame in Paris.

The Unknown Soldier

While you’re here, make sure to pay your respects to ‘The Unknown Soldier’, a memorial to Australia’s war dead sculpted by G. W. Lambert and unveiled in 1931. It stands in the aisle and is informally regarded as Australia’s ‘Monument to the Unknown Soldier’.

Stained glass

The stained glass is magnificent at St. Mary’s. There are around 40 pictorial windows, with lots of themes and events depicted. The 3 rose windows above the entrances are a common favourite. The upper level of the cathedral was glazed with yellow glass, to enhance the Australian sunlight streaming through, although the glass has darkened over the years.

Other interesting facts about St Mary’s Cathedral:

  • It’s the longest church in Australia
  • Unlike most other cathedrals, it’s oriented north to south, rather than east to west
  • The original cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1865 – only the choir bells escaped damage
  • Pope Benedict XVI visited St. Mary’s Cathedral in 2008