Lonely Planet review
Christchurch's historic hub is Cathedral Square. At the time of writing the square was in the heart of the city's cordoned-off CBD (Central Business District), but was planned to be re-opened sometime from mid-2012. See the CBD Red Zone Cordon Map (www.cera.govt.nz) for the latest information.
At the centre of the square is ChristChurch Cathedral, originally constructed in 1881, and a much-loved icon of the city. The February 2011 earthquake caused devastating damage, bringing down the Gothic church's 63m-high spire and leaving only the bottom half of the tower remaining. It was feared up to 20 people had been in the spire when it collapsed, but it was later found that no one had died at the site. Subsequent earthquakes in June 2011 and December 2011 destroyed the cathedral's prized stained-glass rose window, and the cathedral was deconsecrated in October 2011.
The deconstruction and demolition of the cathedral was announced in March 2012 by the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, but at the time of writing there remained significant public opposition to this decision. See www.christchurchcathedral.co.nz for the latest information. The draft plan to rebuild Christchurch recommends that Cathedral Square be transformed into a park. In April 2012, plans were announced to build a 'cardboard cathedral' designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Located on the corner of Madras and Hereford Sts near Latimer Square, the $5 million construction will seat 700 worshippers and is planned to open in December 2012. The cathedral will become the temporary centre for Christchurch's Anglican St John's parish, and will also be used for concerts and art exhibitions.
Other heritage buildings around Cathedral Square were also badly damaged, but one modern landmark left unscathed is the 18m-high metal sculpture Chalice , designed by Neil Dawson. It was erected in 2001 to commemorate the new millennium.