St Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame – Which is the Best Cathedral?

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

St Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame, who will emerge as the winner in the clash of Cathedrals?

St Paul’s Cathedral in London and Notre Dame in Paris are among the two most famous cathedrals in Europe and the world.

Notre Dame is the epitome of French Gothic architecture, while St Paul’s Cathedral is a Baroque-styled cathedral that is a symbol of resilience. 

While both the cathedrals have similarities, they have distinct differences which set them apart. 

Let us help you decide and make the best choice considering the features, location, and hours of both to determine the winner between St Paul’s Cathedral and Notre Dame.

St Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame – Our Recommendation

St Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame – Our Recommendation
image : Notre Dame , St Pauls Cathedral Stock photos by Vecteezy

Since Notre Dame is closed for renovations until late 2024 or early 2025, you can head to St Paul’s Cathedral for a wholesome experience. 

However, if you are fine with exploring just the exteriors, we recommend you explore both cathedrals, as they are elegant and unique in their own right.

Not only are St Paul’s Cathedral and Notre Dame beautifully built, but they also hold significant religious and historical importance.

Notre Dame’s French elegance and St Paul’s Cathedral’s magnificent dome can not be compared or experienced elsewhere. 

But if you can only explore one of these, then the choice between the two depends on your preference and what you want to see.

If you want to enjoy the architecture and panoramic views of the city, then St Paul’s Cathedral is the one.

However, if you can compromise on the views but the rich history and gothic architecture excite you more, you should go to Notre Dame in Paris.

Features of St Paul’s Cathedral vs Features of Notre Dame

St Paul’s Cathedral vs Features of Notre Dame
Image : St Pauls Cathedral , Stock photos by Vecteezy

While both cathedrals are masterpieces of their respective architectural style, they differ significantly in design, construction techniques, and historical context. 

St. Paul’s features a large, imposing dome, symbolizing the English Baroque era’s grandeur, reflecting the Anglican Church’s stability and power.

On the other hand, Notre Dame is a testament to the innovation and spiritual aspiration of the Gothic period.

Its verticality, light-filled interiors, and detailed facade demonstrate the medieval Catholic Church’s influence.

Here is a detailed look into their features: 

Features of St Paul’s Cathedral

Features of St Paul’s Cathedral
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

One of the primary features of St Paul’s Cathedral is the three galleries: The Whispering Gallery, The Stone Gallery, and The Golden Gallery.

The Whispering Gallery’s prominent feature is its ability to transfer the quietest whispers from one part of the gallery to another; therefore, it is known for its unique acoustics.

The Stone Gallery and The Golden Gallery offer panoramic city views of London.

The Golden Gallery is above the Stone Gallery and offers city views from a higher point.

St Paul’s Cathedral Dome is yet another iconic feature of the cathedral.

The galleries mentioned above are situated inside this beautiful and majestic dome.

Visitors can also witness the Light of The World Fresco by William Holman Hunt, which shows Jesus Christ as the light of the world, reinstituting the religious significance of the cathedral.

Features of Notre Dame

Features of Notre Dame in
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

Primary features of Notre Dame include stone carvings, pointed arches, and stunning glass-stained windows.

Another iconic feature of Notre Dame is the Twin Towers reaching high in the Parisian sky.

Such beautiful features display the fine craftsmanship of the past ages and inspire future architects and designers.

The Twin Towers do not just serve aesthetically but also have practical and functioning purposes as they offer city views.

The Rose Window at Notre Dame fills the cathedral with vibrant hues as sunlight peeps through the Rose Window at different angles during different hours of the day.

Notre Dame also houses several sculptures and artworks whose interior and exterior tell religiously significant stories and historical events.

Another aesthetically pleasing and functional feature of Notre Dame is the flying buttresses, a unique feature dating back to the time Notre Dame was built.

The flying buttress is a central feature of Gothic architecture and is also present in Notre Dame.

St Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame- Which Cathedral has better features?

Cathedral has better features
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

In terms of better features, St Paul’s Cathedral and Notre Dame spellbound any admirer with their classic and unique features.

St Paul’s Cathedral presents an elegant show of Gothic architecture mixed with Baroque architectural elements.

Visitors can also enjoy the marvel of Renaissance architecture in the cathedral’s building.

Visitors can witness the Dome from outside and enjoy the unique experience in The Whispering Gallery and the views from the other two galleries.

On the other hand, Notre Dame is a classic example of Gothic architecture.

The flying buttress highlights the appearance of the cathedral and adds to the cathedral’s Gothic charm.

The Rose Window attracts visitors with its beautiful hues, too.

Considering the appealing features of the cathedrals, it’s challenging to pick one from the two.

As a result, considering one cathedral’s features better depends on your liking and preferences.

Location

The cathedral’s location can make a major difference in preferring one in the St Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame banter.

St Paul’s Cathedral is located in the heart of London and is a significant landmark in the city.

St Paul’s Cathedral address is- St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, United Kingdom. Get Directions.

Notre Dame in Paris proudly sits in the heart of Paris, France.

Notre Dame’s address is- 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France. Get Directions.

Opening Hours

Opening Hours
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

The opening hours for both cathedrals are also essential to plan your visit.

The St Paul’s Cathedral’s opening hours are from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm on all days except Sundays and Wednesdays.

On Wednesdays, the Cathedral opens at 10 am and closes at 4.30 pm.

St Paul’s Cathedral’s hours on Sundays are from 8 am to 6 pm.

Visitors can enter the cathedral 30 minutes before closing time.

On the other hand, Notre Dame is closed and set to reopen in December 2024. 

Notre Dame was closed for renovation following the infamous fire and is set to welcome its visitors after a grand opening.

Since Notre Dame is closed for renovations, we suggest you visit St Paul’s Cathedral.

Expected Crowd

Expected
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

Let us consider St. Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame in terms of its visitors and the factors that affect the same.

St. Paul’s Cathedral attracts over two million visitors annually, much less than the around 13 million at Notre Dame in Paris.

However, Notre Dame currently welcomes fewer visitors since the ongoing renovation work at the Paris Cathedral has reduced entry to several areas.

But several people still visit the iconic Notre Dame during a trip to Paris because it is considered unmissable.

The cathedrals are expected to be more crowded during the peak travel season, during weekends, or during special events.

On weekdays, the cathedrals are less crowded after they open, so the best time to visit either cathedral is early morning.

Visitors can also visit the cathedrals closer to closing as most people leave by then.

Our Final Verdict on St Paul’s Cathedral vs Notre Dame

St. Paul’s Cathedral and Notre Dame are unique and magnificent in their own ways, and choosing between them depends on personal preference.

If you’re keen to experience the epitome of English style, including Baroque architecture with elements of Gothic and Renaissance, then St. Paul’s Cathedral is for you.

On the other hand, if you’re drawn to the pinnacle of French innovation and wish to marvel at Gothic architecture, then Notre Dame is the place to visit.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is also an excellent option if you prefer to avoid exploring Notre Dame in a fragmented manner.

In this scenario, consider visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral first and Notre Dame later after it reopens.

And if you cannot choose between St. Paul’s Cathedral and Notre Dame, being attracted to both, why not visit both captivating sites?

Additionally, some areas of the city offer free parking on bank holidays.


If you are planning to visit St Paul’s Cathedral, also read about 


FAQs

1. Is Notre Dame the oldest cathedral in the world?

No, Notre Dame in Paris is not the oldest cathedral in the world.

The Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia is the oldest cathedral in the world.

2. Is Notre Dame the biggest cathedral in France?

No, Notre Dame is not the biggest cathedral in France.

The largest cathedral in France is the Amiens Cathedral, which is big enough to house two cathedrals the size of Notre Dame in Paris.

3. Why is St Paul’s Cathedral so special?

St Paul’s Cathedral is so special for several reasons, including its astonishing architecture, stunning galleries, and breathtaking panoramic city views.

Apart from these, St Paul’s Cathedral holds significant religious and cultural importance and symbolizes resilience in the UK.

It is also special because it was the venue for the royal wedding of the now King Charles III and the late Princess Diana.

4. What is the difference between St Paul’s Cathedral and Notre Dame?

St. Paul’s Cathedral was built and rebuilt several times over the course of several hundred years before Christopher Wren made it the way we see it today.

It took him and his men around 40 years to give it its current form.

Notre Dame in Paris, on the other hand, took over a hundred years to build.

5. How long should you spend at St Paul’s Cathedral?

How long you spend at St Paul’s Cathedral depends on you; however, exploring the Cathedral completely, from outside and inside, can take several hours.

Consider two to four hours, depending on your ability to climb over 500 steps to reach the top of the Galleries and the rest of the Cathedral.

6. How long should you spend at Notre Dame?

Exploring Notre Dame typically takes around one to two hours. 

Consider an hour or two extra on peak days, depending on the crowd.

Featured image : Notre-Dame , cathedral Stock photos by Vecteezy

Harshita
About the author

Harshitha’s heart lies where greeny mountains meet stretches of beach. She believes getting lost is the best way to explore