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Where's the Best Church in Adelaide?

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by Barry J (subscribe)
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Published February 7th 2017
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St Francis Xavier's Cathedral at night (by David Fielding / BY-SA 2.0)

Since the founding of South Australia in 1834 as a "Paradise of Religious Dissent" for Christian settlers, Adelaide quickly became the City of Churches. While there are now more clubs and pubs than churches in the CBD, Adelaide is still home to some historic places of worship.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church - 87 North Terrace, Adelaide; 08 8213 7300
Listed in the SA Heritage Register, the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Adelaide's first church was built in 1838 and expanded 50 years later with it's distinctive Victorian Gothic architecture.

A headquarters for evangelical Christians in the city, it also supports missionary work and has an expanded community now including churches in 7 other suburbs throughout Adelaide.

Look out for the clock above the main door, our city's first town timepiece. Inside, highlights include the propeller from WW2, a gift from the Royal Australian Air Force in appreciation of the wartime service of church's minister at the time. The large stained glass window, commemorating the first century of service to the Adelaide community, is the church's most captivating feature.

For genealogists and history buffs, the vestry contains the first marriage register and the Bible used by the church's first Anglican minister, arriving on the HMS Buffalo in 1836.

The church is open for visits from 10am - 2pm weekdays with church services on Sunday at 9am, 10.30am, 5pm & 7pm.

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The tower of St Francis Xavier's Cathedral (Public Domain)

St Peter's Cathedral - 27 King William Road, North Adelaide; (08) 8267 4551
Since the foundation stone of St Peter's Cathedral was laid on St Peter's Day in 1869, the colourful stained glass patterns of its Catherine window evoke images of the the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, another beautiful example of the French Gothic style.

The building is also influenced by the English architect's use of polychromatic patterns, alternating dark and light shaded marble, tile, brick and stonework to create striking patterns and draw your gaze upward along the tall spires.

The international influence continues with wooden and enamel sculptures, stone heads and a hanging crucifix, created by Hungarian and Czech-Australian artists. Throughout the cathedral, stained glass windows capture local and Biblical scenes in art created throughout the church's history, including a 21st century design.

The Cathedral is open to visit from 9.30am to 4.00pm Monday - Saturday and 12pm - 4pm Sunday. There are free tours at Sunday 12.30pm and Wednesday 11am or you can take a self-guided tour using the information booklets. Choral services on Sunday are at 10.30am and 6pm.

Pilgrim Uniting Church - 12 Flinders St, Adelaide; (08) 8212 3295
Originally named the Stow Memorial Church to honour its first minister, the Pilgrim Uniting Church, was built in an Revival Gothic style in 1867.

The exterior of the cruciform-shaped building features Caen limestone carvings of flowers with a cheeky squirrel added over the central pillar, resembling the architect's furry companion.

Inside the church, the walls are lined with over 20 stained glass windows, including the striking Millennium window, a circular window with white stone borders.

Inside the church, the largest pipe organ in South Australia can be heard of the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month during lunchtime recitals.

Throughout the church's long history, the congregation have been directly involved in social advocacy for contemporary issues, currently focusing on refugee assistance, environmental protection and Aboriginal welfare.

The church is open for visitors on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 12pm - 2pm with services at 9.30am and 11am each Sunday.

St Francis Xavier Cathedral - 39 Wakefield St, Adelaide; (08) 8232 8688
St Francis Xavier Cathedral could be considered Australia's contribution to the shortlist of the world's most inspiring cathedrals, including St Paul's Cathedral in London, the Duomo in Florence and St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome.

There is a special atmosphere inside Australia's oldest Roman Catholic cathedral, due to the vast size and the 145 years of artistic effort during its construction.

In the exact centre of Adelaide City, beside the cathedral, a newly sculpted statue, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, in Mary MacKillop Plaza is a pilgrimage site for Australia's first Catholic Saint.

During the Adelaide Fringe Festival, classical music is played using the 1927 Canadian-built pipe organ during free lunchtime concerts each Wednesday.

The cathedral is open from 7.30am - 6.30pm every day for visitors.

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The Magdalene Window in St Peter's Cathedral (by Tuespetrus / BY-SA 3.0)

Brougham Place Uniting Church - 193 Brougham Place, North Adelaide; (08) 8267 2657
Unique amongst Adelaide's remaining churches from the 19th century, the Brougham Place Uniting Church, founded in 1859, has a very inviting Greco-Italian style architecture. Using stone quarried by convicts, it would be 12 years before the construction was completed.

Pause before entering via the marble steps at the western end of the park to follow the lines of the sharp corners of the exterior upward to decorative floral carvings. Between them, honeycombed metal grilles allow airflow into the church.

Above the round windows of the curved western tower, note the differing patterns of stonework and the ornate iron cross.

Inside the church, you'll immediately be drawn to the shiny pipe organ behind the altar, between two large Biblical quotes. Along the north and south walls, tall stained glass windows are strikingly different to the displays in Adelaide's other churches, dominated with geometric patterns and memorial dedications instead of biblical scenes.

The church hosts services at Sunday 10am.

Honourable Mention:

Flinders Street Baptist Church - Serving the community since 1863, Flinders Street Baptist Church at 65 Flinders St, a heritage listed rustic gothic design, is a popular site for weddings. The church hosts a Sunday service at 10am. Call the church on (08) 8223 4550.

Which church in Adelaide inspires your awe? Please let us know with a comment.

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Brougham Place Uniting Church (by Alex Sims / BY-SA 2.5)

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Brougham Place Uniting Church is hard to beat because of it's position. style and nice proportions,with standout designed tower.However, inside it is plain and not all that inspiring.
St.Peter's Cathedral is superb inside and out and in such a commanding position..second by a bee's whisker.
Not mentioned here is the Catholic Chapel in the grounds of the Convent of Mercy , Angas St.A unique interior...not open to the public except on special far as I can recall.
by noelp (score: 3|1199) 1758 days ago
a pretty bit of architecture does not make a good church.....maybe look at what is going on inside
by karen (score: 0|6) 1757 days ago
Wesley Uniting Church Kent Town, 31 Fullarton Rd, Kent Town, opened in 1865, designed by E W Wright and E J Woods,in neo Gothic style, seats 1100 on two levels.
A beautiful stone cathedral like church, with beautiful stained glass windows and warm wooden interior fittings
by mille (score: 0|4) 1750 days ago

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