Belfast Cathedral, known as St Anne’s Cathedral, was built on the site of an older Church dedicated to St Anne. It is on Donegall Street – right in the city centre so easily walked to or hop off your Belfast City Sightseeing tour at stop number 7.
The foundation stone was laid in 1899 and the nave was consecrated on June 2 1904. Over the years the Cathedral has been extended and the striking stainless steel Spire of Hope was added in 2007.
The Cathedral is a Romanesque building with five large pillars each side of the central nave with half pillars in the walls at either end; windows that are each a single huge light, mosaics in two ceilings and covering a tympanum above the west door and that above the entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Four archangels are carved high in the corners of the nave, an apse and ambulatory at the east end and massive round arches throughout the whole building.
There is much artistic merit in the finer detail of the Cathedral. The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, added in 1932, has stained glass windows relating to the activity of the Holy Spirit as described in the Bible, from the Creation in Genesis to Saint John’s vision in Revelation.
On the opposite side of the Cathedral is the baptistery. The carvings are by Rosamund Praeger, who also designed the bronze plaque above Lord Carson’s tomb. He is the only person buried in the Cathedral.
The detailed nave pillar capitals, each with a different theme, were carved chiefly by Morris Harding, whilst the fine carving on the West façade of the Cathedral is the work of Esmond Burton and is a memorial to those who lost their lives in 1914-1918 World War.
The Cathedral’s mosaics of Italian glass are the work of two sisters, Gertrude and Margaret Martin. The mosaic over the font is said to hold more than 150,000 pieces.
The Cathedral has many stained glass windows; the huge nave windows depict characters from the Old Testament, those in the ambulatory show some of the fruits of the Spirit, there are three abstract windows high above the altar, while the east window pictures the parable of the Good Samaritan and was moved to this position from the old St Anne’s Church.
Looking the other way the west windows are perhaps the most impressive of the whole Cathedral; the central window depicting Christ in glory. Modern windows are to be seen in the Chapel of Unity and the Royal Irish Regimental Chapel.
St Anne’s has some very fine needlework on display, especially the individually designed, hand sewn, tapestry cushions and kneelers. The stunning Titanic Pall commemorates the lost lives in the sinking of the Titanic, and hangs on the south wall of the nave when not in use.
Taking a tour of St Annes Cathedral
You can now enjoy an even richer experience of St. Anne’s Cathedral with your own personal audio guide. The audio guide takes you on an intimate, 40 minute tour of Belfast’s magnificent cathedral. Point by point you’ll find out how the Cathedral’s story is intertwined with that of its home city, discover its rich historic artefacts, and be introduced to the people who helped to shape this sacred place.
Using state-of-the-art technology, the simple one-click audio tour system will add a new level of experience to your exploration of this great Belfast icon. An audio tour costs £4 per person.
Booking isn’t necessary for individuals or small parties; however groups of more than 10 are advised to book to check if a sufficient quantity of audio tour handsets are available or if it would be more appropriate to arrange a guided tour. For group bookings, please email email@example.com to discuss, giving as much notice as possible.
The Cathedral is open to visitors from 9am to 5.15pm Monday to Saturday, (last audio tour at 4.45pm), and 1 to 3pm only on a Sunday. Please note that the Cathedral will sometimes be closed for special services like weddings and funerals.
Belfast Cathedral is a sacred space and is open for worship and services outside of these hours. Anyone can come into the Cathedral freely at any time of the day for quiet and a place to pray. Please check the website for the times of services.