On a hilltop surrounded by gardens is Nelson's historic and architectural highlight. The site is an integral part in Nelson's history, originally as a Māori pā or fortified village, then as the base for the initial city street survey. This hill also housed the immigration barracks when the city was first settled by Europeans. A tent church was erected in 1842, followed by more permanent ones in 1851 and 1887. Work on the current cathedral (the third on the site) began
in 1925 and dragged on for 40 years. The grand Gothic vision was curtailed partway through construction with a modernist finish completed in the 1960s. The steps running down to Trafalgar Street have become a destination in their own right, a social hub in the city center.