Built on the site of the first public Christian services in Melbourne in 1836, St Paul's Cathedral was built between 1880 and 1891, although construction of the spires did not begin until 1926. The Neo-Gothic transitional-style cathedral replaced an earlier building to take advantage of the busy city intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets in the heart of Melbourne's CBD.
The man in charge of construction of the Anglican cathedral was renowned ecclesiastical architect William Butterfield who had a long-distance and rather fraught relationship with this work. As he refused to visit Melbourne to oversee the building, instead sending drawings from his base in England, the construction suffered from the setbacks associated with management from afar. He actually resigned from the project twice, necessitating supervision by Melbourne architect Joseph Reed for its completion. A popular Melbourne landmark, over 300,000 visitors wander through the cathedral every year.
Notable features of St Paul's Cathedral include the Moorhouse Tower Lantern – a stunning dalle de verre stained glass that filters light from the Moorhouse Tower through an opening in the ceiling of the high chamber. The symbolic composition of a sacred eight-pointed star, colours and shapes signify Christian ideology. Other examples of stained glass can be found in the processional doors that tell the story of St Paul. The Persian tile, located near the ceremonial doors, is a replica of an eight-pointed star tile found in a church in Shiraz, and symbolises the Resurrection. The cathedral bells were made in London and are one of the few peals of 13 bells outside Britain. The Society of Bellringers can be heard practising every Wednesday from 6:30pm to 9pm.
Entry to St Paul's Cathedral is free, and worship services are held every day. Cathedral guides volunteer their time to individual visitors and groups wishing to learn about the history and architecture of the site. To visit from Flinders Street Station, it's a four-minute walk down Swanston Street and right onto Flinders Lane.