Difference Between Church and Cathedral

Main Difference – Church vs Cathedral 

Church and cathedral are both related to Christianity and denote religious places. Many people use these two words interchangeably thinking that there is no difference between church and cathedral and that they both refer to a building used for Christian worship. However, this assumption is not entirely correct; while both words refer to a place of worship, there is a distinct difference between church and cathedral. The main difference between church and cathedral is that cathedral is the designated principal church within a diocese.

What is a Church

In simple terms, a church is a public place of worship for Christians. The term church is actually a very broad term; it can refer to a building used for worship, a Christian organization with its own clergy, buildings, and distinctive doctrines or to refer to the religion itself.

As a building, it is a house of worship, a building where Christians get together to perform religious rituals and interact with one another. Although the term church is commonly used to refer to a Chrisitan place of worship, it can also be used to refer to other religions’ places of worship too.

Churches can be seen in both cities and villages, and most of them have at least one pastor or priest. The religious service or mass is usually celebrated on Sundays.Main Difference - Church vs Cathedral

What is a Cathedral

Cathedral is also a type of a church. Cathedrals are often found in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox faiths. It is the main seat of a Bishop and therefore the central church in a diocese. The designation of a cathedral also moves when the bishop’s seat moves elsewhere. The term cathedral is named after the cathedra – the bishop’s seat.

In Orthodox Church, there are two types of cathedrals: the main church of a diocese which is the bishop’s church and a major church in a given region, city, town. Even if this church is not the bishop’s seat, it is given the name cathedral.Difference Between Church and Cathedral

Difference Between Church and Cathedral 


Church is a building used for public Christian worship.

Cathedral is the principal church of a diocese, which is the bishop’s seat.


Church can refer to a building, religion as well as religious followers.

Cathedral usually refers to a building.


Church can be found in cities and villages.

Cathedrals are found in larger geographical areas.


Church refers to any place of worship for Christians.

Cathedrals are mainly found in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox faiths.       


Churches can be simple and small places.

Cathedrals tend to more large and grandiose than churches.Difference Between Church and Cathedral - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Church” by Larry D. Moore via  

“Cathedral” by Diliff – Own work   via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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