It may come as a surprise to many, but America is one of the largest cathedrals in the world and it's only two-thirds completed. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine (also called St. John's) is a massive cathedral in Manhattan in New York City. It is a cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and construction first started in 1892.

Despite not being complete, it is consecrated and is a fully operating cathedral that welcomes all visitors. But perhaps the most famous unfinished cathedral in the world is the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona that is a must-see if visiting that city.

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About The Cathedral

In the 1800s the number of Episcopal parishes in New York City was growing rapidly. The first proposal for a grand cathedral was made in 1828 by Bishop John Henry Hobart, but it would be a long time before the idea would gain traction (there were still bad feelings of resentment to the Church of England being only 50 years since the War of Independence).

As the idea moved forward, later on, it was planned that the cathedral would be the "American Westminster Abbey" and would rival the Catholic St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan.

  • Address: 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, Morningside Heights, Manhattan NYC
  • Nickname: St. John The Unfinished
  • Date Started: 1892

Only two-thirds of the proposed building has been completed - partly due to work interruptions and major stylistic changes. It was originally planned in a Byzantine Revival and Romanesque Revival style, but this was later changed to Gothic Revival.

The nave was completed in 1941, but there has been little progress since then (apart from the tower having been built on the nave's southwest corner). It is unclear if or when the cathedral will ever be completed, it is an expensive undertaking and the cathedral often struggles to just pay for maintenance, etc. with income from visitor fees and events.

There was a large fire in the cathedral in 2001 and but that was repaired by 2008.

  • Size: The World's Sixth-Largest Church By Area
  • Largest: The Largest or Second-Largest Anglican Cathedral
  • Floor Area: 121,000 Sq Feet or 11,200 Sq Meters

Despite being incomplete the cathedral is fully functioning and is used for a whole range of events and art exhibitions.

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Visiting St. John's

The Cathedral is open to the public and everyone can visit. It is currently encouraged to reserve a timed ticket. There is a token fee for those coming as tourists. For those seeking a place of prayer or mediation, there is no fee and visiting is free. Visiting the cathedral should be a part of any essential New York weekend itinerary.

Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 9:30 am to 3 pm
  • Saturday: 9:30 am to 5 pm
  • Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

Self-Guided Admission: $5 Per Adult (Normally $10 but Reduced Due To The Pandemic)

There are many events being held at the cathedral, so keep on an eye on their calendar for upcoming events.

Admission is also included with several New York City tourist passes.

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Guided Tours Of The Cathedral

One of the best ways to see this stunning cathedral is with a guided tour. There are a number of guided tours as well as "Virtual Tours" of the Cathedral. Tours really bring the cathedral to life, delving into the building's architecture, history, and art and grasping the magnitude of the project.

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Gardens & Grounds Tours: This tour is offered every weekend by the cathedral. They are in-person, outdoor, guided walking tours. The tour goes through the 11-acre campus of the cathedral and the expert tour guides explain both the nature and the architecture of the gardens and the grounds of the close.

Highlights Tours: This tour is every Saturday and tours the Cathedral's highlights. This tour brings to life the secrets of the Cathedral's history, artwork, and architecture. Learn about everything from the Great Bronze Doors to the seven Chapels of the Tongues.

  • Note: Vaccination Required
  • Cost: From $15.00 Per Person

Vertical Tours: This is one of their most popular tours. Enjoy the opportunity to climb onto the roof of the massive Gothic cathedral. To get to the roof, visitors must climb over 124 feet of spiral staircases to get up to the top.

  • Note: Vaccination Required
  • Age Limited: All Participants Must Be 12 Years Old or Up
  • Cost: From $20 Per Person

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Private Tours: If one would like a private tour of the cathedral, just contact the cathedral and they can schedule a private tour with one of their expert educators. These tours are customized to the interests of the particular group and go in for an in-depth study of the cathedral.

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