Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

You don’t have to travel to Europe to experience the grandness of a Gothic cathedral. You may be surprised to find out that New York City is home to the largest church in the Western Hemisphere, and the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world.

As the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and the seat of its Bishop, this cathedral is the focal point of the Episcopal Church of New York.

A Majestic Work in Progress

Construction of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine began in 1892 and is still a work in progress. Originally designed in 1888 to reflect the Byzantine-Romanesque style of architecture, it was changed to a Gothic Revival design in the early 1900s.

The building of the cathedral was interrupted by the two world wars. Then in 2001 a devastating fire destroyed the unfinished part of the cathedral’s North Transept. The cathedral was closed until 2008 for repairs and restoration which continue to this day.

A Showcase of Treasures

The cathedral is an awe-inspiring example of Gothic Revival architecture spanning 121,000 square-feet. It has a seating capacity of over 5,000. The nave is the length of two football fields and the Statue of Liberty without its pedestal would fit under its central dome.

The cathedral is filled with a stunning array of treasures including tapestries, paintings, stonework, stained glass windows and sculptures as well as the world-renowned Great Organ. This 8,500-pipe organ was fully restored after suffering smoke damage from the 2001 fire.

Tours of the Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine features a soaring eleven-flight spiral stone staircase. Visitors can take a “Vertical Tour” where they climb 124 feet to experience a dramatic perspective of the intricate architecture and the grand scale of the nave. At the top, a spectacular view of the Morningside Heights neighbourhood of Manhattan awaits. Space is limited and reservations are recommended.

“Highlight Tours” are led by guides who know the cathedral inside and out. Visitors will learn about the cathedral’s history and get a inside look at the artwork and architecture including the Great Bronze Doors and the Seven Chapels of the Tongues located behind the high altar of the cathedral.

Reservations are not needed for groups less than ten. Groups of ten or more and school groups must reserve in advance.

Medieval Birthday Parties for Kids

Highlighted as one of New York’s “50 Best Places to Have a Kids Birthday”, Cathedral of St. John the Divine features a creative studio space called the Medieval Arts Workshop. After exploring the cathedral, kids head to the Workshop where they get to create Middle Ages-inspired arts and crafts projects including designing stained glass, weaving on a loom, carving limestone blocks and sculpting clay gargoyles, followed by a medieval-style banquet.

Visiting the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The cathedral is located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue in the Morningside Heights area of New York City. It is one block east of Broadway between 111th and 112th Streets.

For general information on cathedral hours, services, tour schedules and tour admission fees call 212-316-7540. For information on booking group tours or birthday parties call the Department of Public Education and Visitor Services at 212-932-7347.

Location: 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York City, New York
Phone: 212-932-7347 or 212-316-7540

Click here to visit Cathedral of St. John the Divine official website.