Brisbane is a city filled with churches and even boasts no less than two separate cathedrals. These not only represent some of Brisbane's most exquisite examples of built heritage, they also help us to understand local values and beliefs. As you marvel at a handful of Brisbane's churches, featuring spectacular stone masonry, stained-glass windows, artworks and memorabilia, enjoy some of the sculptures accentuating the other fine heritage buildings, shrines, and open spaces along the way. This tour will surprise you with its many stories and connections to our fascinating city community.
The combined Churches and Shrines Tour takes around four hours. If you only have around two to three hours, the following sub-options are recommended: visit only the Cathedrals only; visit the Ann Street precinct and ANZAC Square only.
Start your tour at the magnificent Cathedral of St Stephen (249 Elizabeth Street) - please take care to avoid mass times of 10am and 12.30pm.
The historical St Stephen's Chapel was completed only eight years after the coming of the free settlers to Brisbane (1842). St Stephen's Chapel was the first Catholic Church in Brisbane and today is known as the oldest church in Queensland.
Bishop Quinn, the first bishop of the diocese, laid the foundation stone of the cathedral on the feast of St Stephen, 26 December 1863. A larger and more ornate church was envisaged than the present one but the economic depression of the mid-1860s resulted in only part of the original foundations being laid. Using the existing foundations, work was re-commenced early in 1870. On Sunday, 17 May 1874, the still-incomplete cathedral was solemnly blessed and dedicated.
Archbishop John Bathersby blessed the Jubilee Pipe Organ on 29 October 2000. He also authorised the restoration of St Stephen's Chapel in which a diocesan shrine to Mary MacKillop was established.
From here, stroll across the road and through the GPO Laneway to ANZAC Square.
Visit the Shrine of Memories, the Queensland Women's War Memorial, and the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Remembrance at ANZAC Square.
ANZAC Square, named in honour of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, is a Queensland state memorial to men and women who participated in overseas armed service. It is located between Ann Street and Adelaide Street (opposite Post Office Square).
On 25 April, every year, a Dawn Service is held at the Shrine of Remembrance and ANZAC Square.
ANZAC Square contains the Shrine of Remembrance and the 'Eternal Flame of Remembrance' held in a continuously lit bronze urn, dedicated on Tuesday, 11 November 1930.
ANZAC Square also contains the World War II Shrine of Memories underneath the Shrine of Remembrance.
The external wall of the Shrine of Memories is dedicated to the 60,000 Queenslanders who fought in World War I. There are also war-related statues, for various wars, including memorial statues for the Queensland soldiers who fought during the Second Boer War (1899-1902), as well as World War II, the Vietnam War and campaigns in Korea, Borneo and New Guinea.
From here, stroll up to St John's Cathedral.
Absorb the exquisite stonemasonry at St John's Cathedral and St Martin's House (373 Ann Street).
St John's Cathedral is a fine example of nineteenth century Gothic-Revival architecture designed in 1888 by John Loughborough Pearson.
The three stages, 1906 to 1910 and 1963 to 1968, 1989 to 2009 have created a superb Gothic interior with a forest of elegant sandstone columns and arches supporting the only stone vaulted ceiling in Australia.
Once inside the Cathedral, with space to seat 1,000 people, the visitor can see many examples of superb creative arts: examples of exquisite wood carvings include the Choir stalls and Archbishop's seat intricately carved in Queensland Silkwood. There are more than 400 needlework cushions designed by Queensland College of Arts students, featuring Australian flora and fauna. St John's Cathedral is also home to a Coin Collection that reflects the history of Christianity and some flags from episodes of war.
Special note: every Wednesday morning, a free morning tea is offered to all visitors at St John's Cathedral. If you are taking this tour on a Wednesday, please keep this in mind as a refreshment/rest point as this tour does involve so many sites and a fair amount of walking.
All Saints' is the oldest surviving church in use in the inner city area. In 1856 a portion of land on Windmill Hill was granted for the purpose of establishing a church to serve the infant colony of Brisbane.
The interior contains a fine example of hammer-beam roof construction which is very rare in Australia. The east end windows were installed in 1870 and are the oldest stained glass church windows in Brisbane.
All Saints' Church architecture is Early English Gothic Revival style.
From the steps just outside All Saints, there is a great view of your next stop, the rather imposing and impressive Masonic Temple, located at 311 Ann Street.
Imagine a heritage building resembling a sacred cathedral, a royal palace and an antiquities museum all rolled into one.
Brisbane has such a building, but it is rarely seen. The Masonic Memorial Temple in Ann Street, a trove of Freemason history, has been hidden away for 80 years behind towering Corinthian columns. Guided Tours are now available daily at 2pm. Phone to make a booking and/or visit their website for more information on Freemasons Queensland.
The Masonic Temple, steeped as it is in history and architectural intrigue is yet still a mystery to most Queenslanders as it has not always been open to the public.
The temple was built as a shrine and monument as well as to accommodate large Masonic events. It comes complete with grand ceremonial spaces, particularly the Grand Hall, the Court of Remembrance and the massive urn of remembrance built in memory of masons who fell in World War I. Designed by Lange Powell, himself a Freemason, and constructed between 1928 and 1930, the temple was built solely from Queensland materials.
From here, stroll just a few doors away to St Andrew's Uniting Church on the corner of Creek and Ann Streets.
St Andrew's was built during 1904 under the supervision of its architect George D. Payne. It was opened and dedicated as a Presbyterian Church in 1905. Situated on the corner of Creek Street and Ann Street, the red brick and concrete building has been a Brisbane landmark since its construction in the days of the horse and cart. Its design with strong architectural forms including prominent tower, semi-circular arched openings and steeply pitched gables brilliantly exploits the potential of the constrained sloping site.
Continue your stroll down Ann Street to your final destination, Albert Street Uniting Church. This places you back close to the city's centre.
The five foundation stones for Albert Street Uniting Church were laid on August 18, 1888, and the completed church was opened by Lady Norman, wife of Sir Henry Norman, the Governor of the day, on November 8 1889.
This church always has been popular with its congregation and there must be many couples who remember taking their wedding vows here, especially during the World War II years when as many as sixteen weddings took place each day.
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