Historic Manhattan Cathedrals, Churches, and Synagogues

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Some of the most stunning and beautiful churches, cathedrals, and synagogues in the world are right in our backyard. Stop by each of the houses of worship listed below for a solid introduction to breathtaking religious architecture and awe-inspiring design.

Be sure to check out each congregation’s website for information on guided tours, hours of admission, and history surrounding the building and religious community.

  • Cathedral of St. John the Divine
    Located on Amsterdam Avenue in Morningside Heights, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the largest cathedral in the world and the main church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The Cathedral, which was built to compete with St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown, maintains a High-Gothic design, marked most prominently by flying buttresses, which are support beams located on the exterior sides of a building, as well as a large rose window and arched ceilings that rise to a point.

    Visitors should pay close attention to the exquisite detailing and sculpture surrounding the doors of the main entrance, as well as the sheer size of the Cathedral. Massive piers rise over 100 feet high to support the ceiling, and the nave (the main space inside the church) stretches over 600 feet in length. Read about the long, tumultuous history of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
    • Location: 112th Street at Amsterdam Avenue
    • Get there: 1/9 trains to 110th Street/Cathedral Parkway. M4 or M104 bus to Broadway and 112th Street or the M11 to Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street
  • St. Paul’s Chapel
    St. Paul’s Chapel is Manhattan’s oldest church that is still in continuous use. Originally constructed as a small, parish chapel to nearby Trinity Church, it became a famous Manhattan landmark after withstanding the collapse of the World Trade Center just one block west. In the days after the collapse, the plain and domestically-designed church became a refuge site and location for mourning, rest, and reflection.
    • Location: 209 Broadway at Vesey Street
    • Get there: E train to World Trade Center; A, 4/5, J/M trains to Fulton Street
  • Riverside Church
    Leave it to John D. Rockefeller to fund a high-rise church. The bell tower of this sophisticated, French-Gothic style church rises 390 feet over Riverside Park and nearby Columbia University. Visitors will be impressed by the stained glass windows that encircle the nave and flood the interior with light.
    • Location: 490 Riverside Drive at 120th Street
    • Get there: 1/2/3 to 116th Street. M104, M4 or M5 buses to 120th or 122nd Street.
  • Central Synagogue
    Midtown’s Central Synagogue, constructed in 1872, is the oldest synagogue in continuous use in New York City. The colorful exterior is largely defined by the gilded domes atop two, 120-foot octagonal towers, while the decorative interior boasts elaborate, hand-painted Moorish decorations and motifs. After surviving a disastrous fire in 1998, the nave, ceiling and glass windows were restored to reflect the bright colors and crisp designs of the original structure.
    • Location: 652 Lexington Avenue at 55th Street
    • Get there: 4/5/6 and N/R trains to 59th Street
  • St. Bartholomew’s Church
    The construction of St. Bart’s Church coincided with the building of Grand Central Terminal and originally accommodated the religious needs of wealthy Park Avenue residents. Now, the church’s somewhat smaller stance among East Midtown skyscrapers and office buildings is notable and once caused a great deal of contention regarding the developer’s air rights. Visitors should examine the grand entrance portal designed by famed architects McKim, Meade and White, which was originally part of an older church on Madison Avenue.
    • Location: Park Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets
    • Get there: 6 train to 51st Street