Sydney may not be a typical destination for the devoted church tourist, however the metropolis has its own clandestine churches that dot the city-centre unnoticed. Most of these churches included in the list are historical structures that shape Christianity in Australia. Almost all of them are centuries old, and have withstood the test of time as Christianity itself.
So without further ado, here they are:
St James’ Church
St James Church is an Anglican church built during the Macquarie period, when convict labour was apparent. It was designed by a civil architect by the name of Francis Greenway, who himself was also a transported convict from England. Built in 1819 to 1824 from local bricks, the structure is the oldest church building in Sydney CBD.
Aside from being a great place of worship, St James Church is home to a collection of rare marble memorials from the 19th century.
The acclaimed Anglican church is located at 173 King Street and directly opposite the Hyde Park Barracks.
St Andrew’s Cathedral
Along the busy streets of George and Bathurst Streets is another Anglican church, famed for its Gothic Revival architectural design built from sandstone, which is dwarfed by the more prominent Sydney Town Hall on its right-side. It was erected from 1837 to 1868 under the works of Edmund Blacket, who was also at the helm of other notable structures such as the University of Sydney, the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick and three other renowned Anglican cathedrals around the country, namely, All Saint’s in Bathurst, St Saviour’s in Goulbourn and St George’s in Perth.
Since the original All Saint’s Cathedral was demolished and replaced with a newer cathedral, this cathedral is the oldest in the whole of Australia.
The cathedral’s main door and dominant spires are facing the St Andrew’s Cathedral School, as it was planned to be built fronting a street where the school is now located; however the planned street was discontinued resulting to the church’s backside facing the Sydney Square.
St George’s Presbyterian Church
Few blocks away from St Andrew’s Cathedral in the street of Castlereagh, inconspicuous due to the towering buildings around it is the St George Presbyterian Church. Built in the late 1850’s by Thomas Rowe and WB Field, this Gothic inspired sandstone church is still highly intact and used for worship by Presbyterian congregation.
Although small compared to the surrounding modern buildings, the church’s steeple, which is almost half its nave, is an architectural wonder widely seen across the Castlereagh street.
Central Baptist Church
Another church along George Street is the brick and sandstone church of the Baptists. Presumably erected in the early 1930’s, this church embodies the late era of the post-Industrial Revolution as seen with the fusion of the brick layered façade of the church and its sandstone porticos.
St Stephen’s Uniting Church
Opposite the Parliament House and Sydney Hospital in Macquarie Street is St Stephen’s Uniting Church. Established in 1935, the building is another example of the Gothic-inspired architecture predominant in earlier structural designs of churches.
The church is listed with a heritage status by the National Trust of Australia, making it one of the most visited churches in Sydney CBD.
St Philip’s Church
Located in what is termed as the Church Hill, St Philip’s Church is known for being the oldest parish in Australia convened in 1788. However, the present church is not the original structure built in 1793. The current Gothic-inspired perpendicular church was erected from 1848 to 1856 to replace the former sandstone church in the same locale.
This sandstone church located along York Street is listed in the Register of the National Estate along with the famed Sydney Opera House, Sydney Hospital and Sydney Town Hall as well as other renowned structures around the metropolis.
St Patrick’s Catholic Church
Considered to be the oldest Catholic church in Sydney in terms of its construction, as St Mary’s Cathedral was rebuilt in 1882 due to its burning in 1865.
The church’s building was re-designed by its architect, John Frederick Hilly, when the first planned structure did not eventuate due to the spatial limit of the location. Construction of the church was started in 1844 in a land donated by an Irish transportee, William Davis.
Among its prominent structures are the high altar (created in Paris, France and eventually mounted in 1889), colourful stained glass windows, and statues.
St Patrick’s Catholic Church is situated at 20 Grosvenor Street in the famed The Rocks, and is a few walks away from another well-known church, the St Philip’s Church.
St Mary’s Cathedral
The most widely known church among tourists in Sydney is the St Mary’s Cathedral at St Mary’s Road. Its left side is widely visible when one is at Hyde Park especially at the majestic Archibald Fountain.
During the Holiday Season, St Mary’s Cathedral is one of the city’s famous structures that are lit with colourful beam of lights, making it one of the most anticipated and photographed buildings during the festive season.
The current structure was rebuilt in 1882 by John Young, who is also known for building “The Abbey” in Annandale, NSW. Its structural design is of Gothic Revival and built from sandstone.
St Marys Cathedral has the title of Basilica Minor as conferred by Pope Pius XI in 1932.
These eight churches around Sydney metro that we have listed are just a few blocks away from each other by foot. There are other well-known churches you can still visit, however not all are as close to each other as the ones listed above.