An imposing stone structure of decorated geometrical Gothic design, with twin towers above its main southern entrance, rises along the northeastern side of Hyde Park in the heart of Sydney. This is one of the more notable and historic Sydney churches, a Sydney landmark.
St Mary's Cathedral, whose foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Bede Polding in 1868, rises from the site of the first Sydney cathedral built earlier in the century but which had gone up in flames in 1865.
It is the mother church of Australian Catholicism.
St Mary's Cathedral lies in an area bounded by Hyde Park and the underground St James station in the west, government buildings in the north, The Domain in the northeast and east, and Cathedral Rd and Phillip Park in the south.
In the heart of the city
Hyde Park, cut into two sections by Park St which leads east to Kings Cross, is almost certainly the very heart of the city of Sydney.
St Mary's Cathedral itself is almost completely surrounded by swards of green.
As well as being the mother church of Australian Catholicism, St Mary's Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Sydney Catholic archdiocese whose head is the Sydney archbishop.
Other landmarks in this Sydney area are Queens Square and the courts in the northwest; Hyde Park Barracks, the New South Wales Parliament and the State Library in the north; the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the east; and the Australian Museum in the south.
Dressed Pyrmont stone
St Mary's Cathedral is built of dressed Pyrmont stone and is geometrical decorated Gothic in architectural style. The design is cruciform with a central tower at the intersection of the nave and transepts.
It is 350 feet (106.7 metres) in overall outside length with a general width of 80 feet (24.4 metres).
The two towers in the cathedral's facade contain niches, stone louvres, squint holes and windows, but had remained without spires since the church's construction. In May 1999, tubular steel frames were flown by helicopter to the tower tops, forming steel spires to be fully clad in stone. The work was completed on June 25, 2000.