With a newly renovated roof and repaired stained glass windows, the historic St Machar’s Cathedral remains as striking as ever. Its centuries old history and the fusion of Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements make it a beloved spot for visitors and locals alike. But beyond its landmark status, it offers a variety of experiences and activities, from educational programmes to captivating Candlelight concerts.
If you’re planning a visit to the city, the cathedral is located to the north of the city centre in the former burgh of Old Aberdeen. Hop on the 2, 68 or 727 buses or take the ScotRail to better discover the cathedral’s incredible features in person.
Facts, Curiosities and Interesting Things about St Machar’s Cathedral
1. The historic church had its start in the 12th century.
St Machar’s history is believed to date back to the 12th century, when the original church was founded. The cathedral is named after St. Machar, a 6th century Christian missionary and disciple of St. Columbia. The earliest parts of the cathedral were built between the 12th and 13th centuries.
2. The cathedral’s architecture reflects a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles.
While the original portions of the cathedral, dating back to the 12th century, exhibit Romanesque elements, later expansions incorporated the pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses associated with Gothic architecture. St Machar’s is renowned for its stunning stained glass windows, some of which are from the 19th century, which depict religious figures and scenes, with intricate details and vibrant colours.
3. Prominent Scottish figures lie side-by-side in the cathedral’s graveyard.
The cathedral and its churchyard contain the graves and memorials of notable individuals, adding to its historical and cultural significance. Many bishops of Aberdeen as well as other noteworthy figures, including painters James Giles and Robert Brough, author John Joy Bell, Prof Hector Munro Macdonald and Sir Harvey Adamson.
Escape the daily pressures and unwind to the soothing melodies of some of the best compositions and songs in music history. Taking place at the cathedral’s spacious sanctuary, this season you can look forward to tributes to legendary artists Ludovico Einaudi, Coldplay, Fleetwood Mac and Oasis, or perhaps get in the festive mood as you listen to beloved Christmas songs. World class performers will take to the stage to reimagine these familiar tunes in a warm and heavenly settin.
What else can you do at St Machar’s Cathedral?
Besides these spellbinding concerts and the cathedral’s religious services, you can take your time to explore the stunning nave and chapels and admire the structure’s intricate stonework. If you’re a bit of a history buff, St Machar’s Cathedral provides information and materials that help visitors learn about the the church’s past and its role in Aberdeen’s history.
Another tourist favourite is the churchyard, another peaceful area you shouldn’t miss. Additionally, St Machar’s offers educational programmes and workshops and hosts special cultural events throughout the year, where community members can get together and catch up.
St Machar’s is a piece of Aberdeen history and if you’re planning a visit to the city centre, the culturally significant cathedral is definitely a must-visit. Whether its for its history, architectural beauty, or its Candlelight concerts, the cathedral has played a key role in the city’s cultural heritage for centuries. Find out more about the magical concerts by candlelight hosted at the cathedral’s intimate sanctuary!