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Old Cathedral of St. Mary

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 660 California St, Chinatown, San Francisco, CA 94108-2501
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 54 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 18
  • 14
    Very good
  • 4
  • 0
  • 0
Welcoming, great aervice

Interesting church that still needs some renovations. We visited to attend H Mass. community and priest very welcoming.

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Reno, Nevada
via mobile
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54 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 36: English reviews
Reno, Nevada
Level Contributor
178 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Interesting church that still needs some renovations. We visited to attend H Mass. community and priest very welcoming.

Thank C-Z-1982
Watsonville, California
Level Contributor
341 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 99 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 March 2017

This church has a remarkable history . Having withstood 1906 earthquake & a fire. It stands right in middle of China town & I have walked past many times. This time I took the time to enter. Beautiful stained glass windows all around. You can purchase a candle to light in front of the many statues. Something I love to... More 

Thank Kerryloves2travel
Woodbridge, Connecticut
Level Contributor
284 reviews
146 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 117 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 March 2017

You wish these walls could talk. Simple, enveloping, non exaggerated architecture, economical and pragmatic when it was constructed, for the specific purpose for which it was built. ....I praise thee Lord.

Thank differentname
Level Contributor
160 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
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
976 reviews
563 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 343 helpful votes
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
382 reviews
218 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 192 helpful votes
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
310 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
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
1,465 reviews
603 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 782 helpful votes
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
1,257 reviews
551 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 348 helpful votes
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
1,763 reviews
922 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2,108 helpful votes
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

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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