While Melbourne and the Victoria region certainly don’t have the same prodigious tradition of cathedrals seen throughout in Europe, there are a vast amount of churches and cathedrals in Victoria that reflect the country’s 19th century history. Many took on English gothic styles and exhibit striking designs and architecture. These are the top ten most beautiful Churches and Cathedrals in Victoria, Australia.
St Michael’s Uniting Church was originally built in 1839, but was knocked down and rebuilt in 1866 by Joseph Reed, who also designed the Melbourne Exhibition Building and The Melbourne Town Hall. Joseph Reed designed the church in Lombardic style due to his appreciation for this late Roman architectural tradition. The minister who was in charge during 1866 wanted to reflect a theatre-like design so everyone could look onto and hear the preacher. The church practices contemporary preaching and focuses on embracing their inner well-being.
St Paul’s Cathedral was originally designed in a European Gothic style by William Butterfield, and constructed between 1880-91. The spires were designed by John Barr, a redesign of Butterfield’s original, and were constructed from 1926. The Cathedral was built on the land originally occupied by St Paul’s Church, which was demolished in 1885 to make way for the southern end of the Cathedral. Weddings, funerals and baptisms are all held in the cathedral, as well as a number of services, as this place is one of the most popular cathedrals in Melbourne. The Cathedral holds guided tours, which allows you to explore the wealth and beauty of this magnificent space. Likewise, you can also explore the cathedral on your own, as the cathedral is open every day for people and tourists to come for worshipping, praying or just visiting.
Lying in the heart of Melbourne’s Central Business District is the popular St Patrick’s Cathedral. Its simple yet elegant design makes it one of the most mesmerising architectural sights in Melbourne. It is visually striking not just from the exterior, but also upon entering, as its massive walls of blue stone give it an neo-gothic appearance. The cathedral is built on a traditional east-west axis, with the altar pointing towards the eastern end, symbolising belief in the resurrection of Christ. Architect William Wardell designed the cathedral based on medieval cathedrals of England, the common style in the 19th century.
Not only educational, but aesthetically pleasing, the Sacred Heart Cathedral offers a variety of mesmerising scenery and architecture to capture. This cathedral was built in the English Gothic style by William Tappin in order to achieve a structural height, which in turn would provide a luminous interior. The cathedral holds tours, mass times and sacraments, which include weddings, baptisms and pre-wedding education. There is a large organ, which is one of the highlights to view inside. If you enjoy art and have an appreciation for well-structured and stylish old architecture, then taking a trip to the cathedral would be a rewarding experience.
St Mary’s is deeply rooted within the history of Geelong, and was built for the ever-growing population during the Gold Rush years when many Catholics lived in the area and were in need of a sacred place, much like they had in their communities back in England. The Gold Rush that began in 1851 saw the town’s population almost quadruple to nearly 4000, leading to plans of a larger church, which took the form of the building seen today. The church has become an icon for Geelong thanks-in-part to the beautiful designs of this magnificent cathedral-like building, which stands 200 feet long, 130 feet wide, and costing 40,000 pounds at the time of construction.
This church is known as one of the most significant and beautifully designed churches throughout Australia. It was constructed and finished by 1900 and was built to hold over 1,200 people, making it one of the largest parish churches in Melbourne. Edgar J. Henderson, the architect who designed the church, took inspiration from the French gothic styles prominent in parts of Europe. St Mary Star of the Sea took eight years to build, and due to financial hardships many thought Henderson was being too ambitious. However, at the end of those eight years, determination paid off and now it stands as one of the most striking churches in Melbourne.
Scots’ Church has one of the most fascinating architectural designs, both from its interior and external appearance. Built between 1871 and 1874 in a gothic style, it was designed by Joseph Reed, one of Australia’s most famous architects, who intended for the building to be one Australia’s most beautiful churches. The interior features an impressive collection of large and smaller stained glass windows depicting various Christian themes. This church was the first Presbyterian Church to be built in Victoria.
A London architect named Robert Russell designed St James’ Old Cathedral in a Colonial Georgian style with the intention to incorporate a symmetrical flair, which helps bring out the structure’s beauty. It is one of the oldest churches in Melbourne and served as the city’s Anglican cathedral until St Paul’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1891. Although the exterior appears modest, its interior presents a simple yet beautiful harmony throughout its design. The cathedral holds weddings, as well as a number of other of events open to the public.
St Paul's Cathedral, Bendigo | Courtesy of St. Pauls Cathedral in Bendigo
St Paul’s Cathedral was constructed to represent the early gothic styles of England, and varies from the one built in central Melbourne, discussed above. The modest exterior appears plain and is made out of red brick, but the interior features exceptional arrangements such as ornamented semi-circular cusps in the ceiling and stained glass windows, which allow colourful and illuminating light to pass into the church. There is also a vibrant organ that adds to the rich interior of the church. However modest, the colour scheme manages to bring this space to life.
St Patrick’s was built in Ballarat between 1858 and 1871, and was given a gothic appearance through the usage of blue stone, and black iron gates. Its dark interior gives off a distinctly elegant vibe, while like most churches it gets its light through the stained glass windows, which in this church are particularly detailed. Contrasting with the darkness are luminous gold crosses on the ceiling.