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Old Cathedral of St. Mary

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 660 California Street at Grant Avenue, Chinatown, San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone Number:
+1 415-986-4388
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 49 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 16
  • 14
    Very good
  • 3
  • 0
  • 0
Still needs money for renovation.

What a beautiful and historical old building. The stained glass windows are beautiful. Unfortunately, lots of paint is peeling is some areas, plaster is falling in others... read more

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 10 October 2016
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49 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 33: English reviews
Level Contributor
134 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 October 2016

What a beautiful and historical old building. The stained glass windows are beautiful. Unfortunately, lots of paint is peeling is some areas, plaster is falling in others. Nonetheless, if you are interested in historic buildings, this is definitely worth the visit.

Thank CLo976
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
937 reviews
543 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 308 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 October 2016

Two major calamities that this church have overcome. On April 18, 1906, a major earthquake struck SF. Many calamities but Old Saint Mary's survived and was intact. However, a fire broke out down below the hills at the pier area and the fire spread quickly upward destroying many structures on its path. Again, the church survived. The church also served... More 

Thank Indiana_Jonesse
Southern Nevada
Level Contributor
380 reviews
218 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 185 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 September 2016

Over 161 years ago, this cathedral stood as California's first cathedral. Lots of history within these walls, not to mention the spiritual ambiance that is palpable. it remains an active, working parish church serving the China Town neighborhood and beyond. All are welcome.

Thank beetcanner
Stuart, Florida
Level Contributor
290 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 August 2016

We arrived in San Francisco on a Saturday afternoon and knew we would not have time for church on Sunday morning. Luckily, our hotel was only two blocks from this church. What a lovely old church. It was right at the corner of Chinatown. We attended a beautiful Mass. This church was built in 1854 and survived the 1906 earthquake... More 

Thank Marie C
Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
1,362 reviews
585 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 634 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2016

This old red brick cathedral with clock tower is located on California Street with a cable car stop right in front. Inside the cathedral, there are white marble pillars and an arched ceiling with soft tones near the top. Stained glass windows and sculptures run along the sides of the wall. There are wooden benches inside for seating for the... More 

Thank FormerCaliBoy
Level Contributor
1,134 reviews
481 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 311 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 February 2016 via mobile

So this is an impressive, historic church right near Chinatown so one can't miss it. Its a brick church and it is quite big with a shop which is assessable by the Main Street right behind It's still a functioning church so they have mass on Sunday mornings.  Inside, the interior is white and so it has a light feel.... More 

Thank youke_worldwide
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
1,686 reviews
880 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,949 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 January 2016

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
616 reviews
326 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 160 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 November 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
26 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 November 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
57 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 October 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

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Staying in Chinatown

Neighbourhood Profile
As the oldest in North America, San Francisco's Chinatown is an exotic experience. A unique neighbourhood decorated with colourful 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 neighbourhood.
Explore this neighbourhood