Sun shines through colourful glass into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

NYC Church Tours: The Catacombs of Old St. Patrick’s and More

New York City’s iconic cathedrals are home to some of the most awe-inspiring architecture and stunning stained glass in the world and an excellent way to explore them is by booking a NYC church tour.

There is certainly no shortage of churches, chapels, and synagogues, for visitors to explore and booking a tour at some of these iconic places of worship allows visitors to get a real feel for the role they played in the history of the city.

The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

Location: 260 Mulberry Street•New York

This New York City landmark is located in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan. It was built from 1809 to 1815. Fans of the film The Godfather may know it as the church where the baptism scene was filmed. Visitors to the Basilica will enjoy the gothic architecture and detailed stained glass but that’s not all. There is a unique tour offered at the Basilica that just recently became available to visitors.

Visitors to Old St. Patrick’s can now experience the Catacombs by Candlelight Tour. St. Patrick’s houses the only catacombs in existence in Manhattan. In fact, there are only a few in existence in the entire United States.

Those honored by being buried beneath this historic cathedral are among some of the most prominent residents of the city. They have played an important role in shaping the history of New York City and the country as a whole. Some of the notable New York residents buried within the vaults are the first Bishop of New York City, the Rev. John Connolly. Also buried at Old St. Patrick’s is General Thomas Eckert who was a well-respected advisor to Abraham Lincoln. Within the vault that houses the remains of the Eckert family, visitors will find an original Edison light fixture. The Delmonico family is also buried within the Catacombs. All twelve members of the Delmonico family, known for their iconic NYC restaurants, have a vault within the catacombs as their final resting place.

Currently, the tour company, Tommy’s New York, has gained exclusivity as the only tour company allowed to offer tours of the Basilica’s catacombs. These candlelight tours are offered daily, 7 days/week at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Location: 1047 Amsterdam Ave • New York City

New York City is home to what is considered the largest cathedral in the world. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine holds that prestigious title. This iconic establishment is over 120 years old. A series of tours are available to visitors to experience this historic landmark.

Highlight Tour

Visitors can learn about the history of the famous cathedral, admire the detailed architecture and appreciate the artwork housed within. Tours are offered on select days and are 1-hour in duration.

Vertical Tour

Wear your most comfortable walking shoes and get ready to climb the cathedral’s spiral staircase to the top. Visitors will learn the stories depicted through the stained glass, artwork, and sculptures. Tourists will be treated to majestic views of Manhattan as the tour ends on the rooftop of the church. Tours run on select days and are 1-hour in duration.

Spotlight Tour

Without doubt one of the best NYC church tours, experience this historic place of worship to appreciate the fine architecture, learn a few history lessons and see all the major highlights within this cathedral. Tours dates will vary.

St Paul’s Chapel

Location: Broadway at Wall Street•New York City

This New York City icon is located in lower Manhattan and recently celebrated its 250th anniversary. Though this historic chapel is located right across the street from the World Trade Center as it tragically collapsed on September 11, 2001, it amazingly sustained no damage. Soon afterward it was nicknamed, “The Little Chapel that Stood.” In the months that followed those horrific events of 9/11, this chapel was transformed into a relief center aiding the rescue workers that worked tirelessly around the clock. Free tours are offered every Friday at 3 pm.

St Patrick’s Cathedral

Location: 5 Avenue•New York City

One of the most famous landmarks in midtown Manhattan is St. Patrick’s Cathedral,  located across from the well-known Rockefeller Center right on 5th Avenue. It’s difficult to visit NYC and not pass by this New York City treasure.

Take a tour of this prominent landmark to learn its rich history and admire its architecture. Guided Group Tours are offered M-F 9-11am & 1:30 – 4 pm. Tours must be scheduled in advance. There is a suggested donation. Public tours are available on select days and self-guided tours are always available with the use of a downloadable app.

This is one of the very best NYC church tours available.

For more unmissable things to do and see, check out our guide to the best New York tours.

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