Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King) is a starkly modernist building which, in the style of so much architecture of the late 1960s, appears at the top of Mount Pleasant as if parked up by aliens. It is both otherworldly and, to some, ugly, its circular shape perplexing until you walk inside. There, the stained-glass of the lantern tower floods the interior with coloured light, the central altar pulling you to its heart with such welcoming arms it’s hard to resist its charms. Though a modern build, work on Sir Edward Lutyens’ cathedral actually began in 1933. At the time, the architect intended to build the second largest church in the world. But with spiralling costs, his scheme was abandoned with only the crypt built. Sir Frederick Gibberd was drafted in to finish the job, which he did in under five years. Sadly, the cathedral suffered problems almost as soon as it opened: a leaking roof, crumbling mosaics. The entrance steps were only completed in 2003.
As time passes the Cathedral has found a new fan club, with those for whom a brutalist concrete structure is a big tick on their architectural tour, and the Metropolitan Cathedral has become a definite stop off for many on a cultural sightseeing tour of Liverpool.
There’s certainly some charm in the theory of the modernist design though perhaps a failure in the finished structure. If your visit coincides with a chance choral service, as ours did, the interior really does take on an altogether warmer feel than the rocket ship exterior would suggest and the original architectural vision perhaps makes more sense.