The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of the most awe-inspiring buildings in all of historic Savannah Georgia. It is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Savannah. If you only have a short time in Savannah make sure that you make your way over to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. You won't regret it. It is a beautiful French Gothic cathedral, certainly one of the most amazing cathedrals in the south. It is the Mother Church for the Roman Catholic Diocese in Savannah.
History of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was built back in 1873. It was dedicated on April 30th 1876, by the Most Reverend James Roosevelt Bayley, who was the Archbishop of Baltimore. The spires were added in 1896. Previous to the current building there were two other churches for the congregation of the church.
On February 6, 1898, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was almost destroyed by a fire. Savannah has had a number of deadly and very destructive fires throughout her history. This one burned many of the buildings in the area, but most of the buildings on Lafayette Square, which is the Square the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is on, survived. The entire interior of the Cathedral was lost in the fire. Only the outside walls and the two spires survived the fire. The Cathedral needed extensive repair but survived.
The interior of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of the most impressive interiors of any building in Savannah. The stained glass windows, executed by the Innsbruck Glassmakers in the Austrian Tyrol, were installed in the Cathedral around 1904. Christopher Murphy, an artist from right here in Savannah directed a firm of artists in the painting of the murals. Their hard work and the extent of their abilities are on full display inside of the Cathedral. Make sure you take a camera with you to photograph the inside of the Cathedral. The Altar is especially impressive.
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist can be visited most days, with the exception of much of Sunday. When you approach the Cathedral you will notice if they have a sign out front. The sign will usually let you know if the Cathedral is closed to guests. Otherwise, head over the the far right door on the front of the Cathedral and head inside.
Photographing inside the Cathedral
Photographing the inside can be a little tricky. It requires a little bit of luck. Being a very popular tourist destination in Savannah, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist can be very crowded at times. It is kind of hit or miss whether you will have to deal with crowds or not. If you get inside of the Cathedral and all of Savannah’s tourists are elsewhere, take advantage of the time, don’t let it go to waste.
You will find every nock of the cathedral full of details and colors waiting to be photographed. If you are not soo lucky and the crowds are all around, you can try setting your aperture as low as your lens will allow, set your iso as low as possible. This will maximize your shutter speed and some of the people may fade to oblivion. Of course you will need a little luck with this method too. If you have some time, explore the Cathedral and wait for the shot to open up. You could surely be in a less inspirational location to have to waste a few minutes in. I have never had a problem taking a tripod into the Cathedral, but in doing so, please be respectful to everyone else in the Cathedral. It would be a real shame for them to outlaw tripods because of impolite photographers (you know who you are).
Getting to the Cathedral
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is located at 222 East Harris Street, in the historic district of Savannah Ga.