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Old Cathedral of St. Mary

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Address: 660 California Street at Grant Avenue, Chinatown, San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone Number: 415 986 4388
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Recommended length of visit: <1 hour

This downtown San Francisco landmark was the first Catholic church in...

This downtown San Francisco landmark was the first Catholic church in California.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 36 reviews
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  • 16
  • 14
    Very good
  • 6
  • 0
  • 0
Good Stop for History Buffs

This "old cathedral" in Chinatown is actually a parish church that serves Chinatown and Nob Hill. Though built as the first cathedral in California, the building only served in... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed 3 weeks ago
Tucson, Arizona

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36 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
1,200 reviews
585 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,353 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 weeks ago

This "old cathedral" in Chinatown is actually a parish church that serves Chinatown and Nob Hill. Though built as the first cathedral in California, the building only served in that capacity from 1854 to 1891 when a needed larger structure went up elsewhere. When we entered the California Registered Historical Landmark recently, a mass was in progress so we couldn't... More 

Thank Rumples
San Francisco, CA
Level Contributor
458 reviews
223 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2015

Goodness knows how this old pile of bricks has withstood all the rattlers under the ground here. 1906 and 1989 left the old girl standing resolute. Beautiful interior, great gift shop nextdoor.

Thank William M
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
24 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2015 via mobile

The entire building is beautiful including the windows and the overall architecture. The most special part is the altar with the many shadow box type depictions of the Blessed Virgin.

Thank TommyORD
Level Contributor
41 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2015

This church is walking distance from China Town, the financial district. there are lots of great old pictures of pre and post earthquakes. the church itself is beautiful and worth a walk through, even if you don't go to a service.

Thank mrsbudboden
Stockton, California
Level Contributor
27 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2015

While in San Fransico, we attended mass at St. Mary's. The priest started the mass welcoming all visitors.. I was amazed at the beauty of the church. There is even appear organ. Stop by and see the store right next store... Have some neat things

Thank Kathy P
Lafayette, California
Level Contributor
299 reviews
101 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2015

If you find yourself in the area of Chinatown, don't miss a stop at Old St Mary's. The Cathedral was completed in 1854 using granite from China, bricks from New England (salvaged from the ballast of ships scuttled during the gold rush), and wood from N. CA. Notice the bible verse under the clock - it was meant as a... More 

Thank LightFighter
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
302 reviews
219 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 98 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2015

Free entry! Kind of neat to see this old Cathedral built in 1854 as California's first cathedral. It survived the 1906 great earthquake and fire, though had to be partially rebuilt. There's cool pictures of what it looked like after the fire inside the church.

Thank ClintPage
Abingdon, Maryland
Level Contributor
465 reviews
297 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 168 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2015

This cathedral was built in 1854. It survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. I believe it was the first cathedral built in California. There is beautiful art work inside. We were lucky enough to be there for a mass. The music was absolutely wonderful. It is easy to find this church as it is on the corner of Grant and... More 

Thank Sharon M
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
110 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2015

On a recent tour of Chinatown, we had the opportunioty to stop at this old Catholic Cathedral. It is amazing that it survived the SF earthquake and fire. There are a number of pictures from that era and informnation regarding the Cathedral's history in the back of the church. If you are ever in Chinatown, you've got to stop by... More 

Thank CaboKing1
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
86 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2015

Do stop in here at this Cathedral - a very old building by US standards at 160 years old. California's first Cathedral in fact. (Roman Catholic)

Thank Clive1234x

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Staying in Chinatown

Neighborhood Profile
As the oldest in North America, San Francisco's Chinatown is an exotic experience. A unique neighborhood decorated with colorful shops, historic streetlights, hanging lanterns, and pagoda roofs awaits behind the stone-carved dragon gates. Feast on dim sum at the tea houses, or meet the locals who gather at historic Portsmouth Square to play chess or practice Tai Chi. Fish markets, produce stands, tourist shops, jewelry stores, fortune tellers, temples and restaurants come together to create a world unto itself in this historic neighborhood.
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