Inverness Cathedral: A Guide for Tourists

Written by Chris Thornton | 6th of December 2023
Inverness Cathedral

Inverness Cathedral, also known as St. Andrew's Cathedral, is a beautiful Anglican cathedral located in the heart of Inverness, Scotland, on the west bank of the River Ness.

It is the most northerly Anglican cathedral in the UK and is a popular attraction for tourists visiting the Scottish Highlands. The cathedral was built in 1869 and features stunning Gothic Revival architecture, including a towering spire that dominates the city skyline.

Visitors to Inverness Cathedral can take a tour of the cathedral and explore its hushed interior, known for its serene atmosphere. The cathedral is also home to several important religious artefacts and features beautiful stained glass windows that are a must-see for any art lover. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or religion, Inverness Cathedral is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting the Scottish Highlands.

East view of Inverness Cathedral.
Inverness Cathedral as seen from the east bank of the River Ness.

Architecture and Design

Inverness Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew (Scotland's patron saint), is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture. The cathedral was built between 1866 and 1869 after Bishop Robert Eden proposed a cathedral for the Highlands in Inverness for the united Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness.

Alexander Ross was the architect behind this fine cathedral and is also responsible for many Victorian buildings around Inverness and was even Provost of Inverness from 1889 to 1895. Other projects included many churches, schools and even Skibo Castle in Sutherland.

The Archbishop of Canterbury laid the first foundation stone on the 17th of October 1866. Inverness Cathedral was the first to be built after the reformation.

Front view of the cathedral.
Frontal view of the cathedral.
Cathedral notice board. Highland Cathedral.
Notice board outside the cathedral.

Exterior Design

The cathedral exterior features a beautiful façade made of pink freestone sourced from Canon Quarry near Dingwall and dressed in cream-coloured stone from Covesea quarry near Lossiemouth.

Compared to other cathedrals in Scotland and the wider United Kingdom, Inverness Cathedral is on the smaller side at 186 ft / 56.7 m long, 72 ft / 22 m wide and 88 ft / 27 m high. The two towers are 100 ft / 30 m tall.

Above the grand entrance of the cathedral's north side is an intricately carved stone panel showing Jesus blessing the apostles. St Andrew and St Peter are standing alone on columns to the left and right of this panel.

Bishop Robert Eden decided to build the cathedral in 1866.
Looking up at cathedral with its red stone.
Ornate entrance.
Part of the ornate entrace.
East view of the cathedral.
East side of the cathedral.

Interior Design

The interior of the cathedral is just as impressive as the exterior. The nave is lined with columns and features a beautiful wooden ceiling. The choir stalls are intricately carved and decorated with figures of saints and angels. The cathedral also has a number of stained glass windows, which cast a beautiful coloured light over the interior.

A cross featuring Jesus is suspended from the ceiling at the far side of the nave.

The cathedral's organ is one of its most impressive features. The organ was built by the famous organ builder Henry Willis and has been played by several famous organists over the years.

Visitors can also see a variety of interesting monuments and memorials inside the cathedral, including a memorial to the soldiers who died in the Boer War.

Inverness Cathedral interior. A place of public worship.
My only interior snap of the cathedral.
Main entrance.
Full view of the entrance with panel.

Religious Significance

Inverness Cathedral, also known as St. Andrew's Cathedral, is the mother church of the Diocese of Moray, Ross, and Caithness. As such, it holds a significant place in the religious history of the Scottish Highlands. The cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Moray, Ross, and Caithness and serves as a spiritual home for many in the region.

The cathedral's history dates back to the 19th century when the Scottish Episcopal Church decided to establish a cathedral in Inverness. The foundation stone was laid in 1866, and the cathedral was consecrated in 1869. Since then, it has been a place of worship, contemplation, and community for people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Today, the cathedral plays an important role in the religious life of the Scottish Highlands. It hosts regular services, including Sunday worship, and offers pastoral care and support to needy people. It also serves as a venue for concerts, recitals, and other cultural events, welcoming visitors from worldwide.

Panel showing Jesus and the apostles.
Detail of the panel portraying Jesus and the apostles.
Scultpure of St Andrew.
St Andrew.
Sculpture of St Peter.
St Peter.

Our visit to Inverness Cathedral

We undertook a mini tour of Inverness and visited the Botanical Gardens, Ness Islands Walk and Inverness Museum. Inverness Cathedral was the last place we visited. Unfortunately, an event was being set up within the cathedral, so we did not venture far inside, but we did peer through the glass near reception at the impressive interior. The two large bell towers and exquisitely carved main entrance reminded me of Elgin Cathedral.

Despite being a reasonably young building compared to other cathedrals, it is still a very impressive structure. The interior pillars are polished to a reflective shine, and the light beams through the glorious stained glass windows.

I would love to revisit the cathedral and explore its many secrets fully.

West view of the cathedral.
West view of the cathedral.

Visiting Inverness Cathedral

Opening Hours

The Inverness Cathedral is open to visitors 365 days a year. The doors are open from 0800 until 1900. Visitors can enter the cathedral from 10 am to 4 pm on Mondays to Saturdays.

Admission Fee

The website for Inverness Cathedral states that it's free to visit, but when we arrived, there was a charge of £2 per person. I would say the £2 is more than worth it for such an impressive building.

Guided Tours

The Inverness Cathedral offers guided tours for visitors who want to learn more about the history and architecture of the building. These tours are available on request, and visitors are advised to contact the cathedral in advance to arrange a tour.

Cafe and Shop

Nestled amidst the serene environs of the Cathedral lies a charming Café & Shop that keeps its doors open all year round, seven days a week. They take immense pride in serving a wide range of delectable offerings such as rich, aromatic coffee, lip-smacking homemade soup, sumptuous lunch menus, and mouth-watering baked treats. What's more, the cafe also caters to the dietary preferences of its customers, providing gluten-free and vegetarian food options as well.

The cafe is open every day from 9 am to 4 pm.

West view of Inverness Cathedral.
The pink freestone shines in the sunlight.

How to get to Inverness Cathedral

Inverness Cathedral is situated alongside the tranquil River Ness, adjacent to the picturesque Eden Court Theatre and the Northern Meeting Park music venue.

Address: Ardross Street, Inverness, IV3 5NN
What3words: ///ritual.begin.crate
Google maps location

From Fort William:

If you are travelling by road, approaching the city on the A82 from Fort William, you can reach the Cathedral by following the road into Inverness. After passing the cemetery on your left, turn right onto Ardross Street after the Highland Council Headquarters, the Cathedral will be on your right-hand side. Please note that there is limited parking available on Ardross Street, and it is metered. Alternatively, you can find a Highland Council Public car park located beyond the Cathedral.

From the A9:

If you are arriving in Inverness from the A9, follow the signs for the A82. At the traffic lights on Kenneth Street, turn right (by the Salvation Army) and continue along the A82. Take a left-hand turn at the sign for the Cathedral Long Stay Carpark. Please note that there is limited parking on Ardross Street, and it is metered. Alternatively, you can find a Highland Council Public car park located beyond the Cathedral.

Inverness Railway Station is conveniently located in the city centre for those travelling by train. There are walking signs for the Cathedral, and you can follow them towards the River Ness and continue along the river in the direction of Eden Court Theatre.

Side cathedral view. A wonderful example of Victorian architecture.
Inverness Cathedral is a very beautiful building.

Events and Activities

The Inverness Cathedral hosts various events and activities throughout the year, including concerts, exhibitions, and community events. Visitors can check the cathedral's website or social media pages for details of upcoming events.

Overall, the Inverness Cathedral is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, or religion. With its stunning Gothic architecture, rich history, and welcoming community, the cathedral is a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

FAQs on Inverness Cathedral

Here are a few frequently asked questions about Inverness Cathedral.

What religion is Inverness Cathedral?

Inverness Cathedral is a cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church, a member church of the Anglican Communion. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Andrew and serves as the seat of the Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness.

A warm highland welcome. The Café serves excellent coffee.
Welcome sign.

Is Inverness Cathedral open to the public?

Yes, Inverness Cathedral is open to the public. The doors are open 365 days a year, and visitors are welcome to explore the Cathedral and its grounds during opening hours.

Is Inverness Cathedral free?

No, it costs £2 per person for visitors.

When was Inverness Cathedral built?

The Cathedral was built in the 19th century, with construction starting in 1866 and finishing in 1869. It was designed by the architect Alexander Ross and was built in the Gothic Revival style.

Are there any other historic cathedrals in the area?

Yes, here is a list of the best cathedrals to visit near Inverness or in north Scotland:

  • Elgin Cathedral (ruinous).

  • Fortrose Cathedral (ruinous).

  • Dornoch Cathedral is still intact but is a Church of Scotland parish church.

  • Dunkeld Cathedral is far to the south (partially ruined).

  • St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Aberdeen.

  • St. Andrew Cathedral Church in Aberdeen.

  • St. Machar's Cathedral, also in Aberdeen.

Rear view of Inverness Cathedral. Red tarradale stone.
Rear view.

Nearby Attractions

There is so much to see and do in the centre of Inverness, but here are a few choice places near the cathedral.

Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle is a must-visit attraction when in Inverness. The castle sits on a hill overlooking the River Ness and the city. The castle dates back to the 11th century and has been used as a courthouse and jail, and now serves as the headquarters for the Highland Council. Visitors can enjoy views of the city from the castle and learn about the castle's history at the castle museum. It's also a fantastic vantage point to see the cathedral.

River Ness

The River Ness is a beautiful river that runs through the heart of Inverness. Visitors can take a stroll along the river and enjoy the scenic views. Several walking and cycling paths along the river also make it a great place for outdoor enthusiasts.

Inverness Cathedral as seen from Ness Islands.
Inverness Cathedral as seen from one of the Ness Islands bridges.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the Highlands. The museum has a collection of artefacts and exhibits that showcase the region's history, from the Picts to the present day. The art gallery features work by local artists and hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

Ness Islands

The Ness Islands are a group of small islands in the River Ness connected by footbridges. Visitors can take a leisurely walk through the islands and enjoy the area's natural beauty. The islands are also a great place for a picnic or to take a break from the city.

Inverness Botanic Gardens

The Inverness Botanic Gardens is a beautiful garden with a collection of plants from around the world. Visitors can enjoy a stroll through the gardens and learn about the different plants and their origins. The gardens also have a tropical house, a cactus house, and a sensory garden.

Eden Court Theatre

The Eden Court Theatre is a cultural hub in Inverness, featuring a variety of performances throughout the year, including theatre, dance, music, and comedy. The theatre also has a cinema and hosts film festivals and screenings.

Key information on Inverness Cathedral

  • The Cathedral began as a Mission in 1853.

  • Excavations began for a new cathedral in 1862.

  • Built between 1866 and 1869 by Bishop Robert Eden.

  • Designed by famous architect Alexander Ross, a future Provost of Inverness.

  • Located on the west bank of the River Ness in central Inverness.

  • Open 365 days a year.

  • £2 per person to visit.

  • The first cathedral to be built after the reformation.

Drone photo of Inverness Cathedral.
One final drone photo of this amazing building. Note Eden Court Theatre next door.


Inverness Cathedral is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in architecture, history, and religion. The cathedral's stunning Gothic Revival style, beautiful stained glass windows, and sculptures make it a unique and impressive sight to behold. Whether you're religious or not, the cathedral's grandeur and history will surely leave a lasting impression.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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