Gambier/Mangareva: St Michael Cathedral in Rikitea

Cathedral of St Michael is the largest church in the South Pacific and is totally and grossly oversized for the tiny population of the Gambiers Archipelago. The neo-gothic church is stunningly grand, built in 1839 out of burned limestone and painted sparkling white. The building fits 1200 people (more then live here) and is three times larger then the cathedral in Papette in Tahiti (built by the same architect). Inside, Polynesian motives play against the classic Catholic themes, with the altar decorated with fine pearl oyster engravings encased with black pearls (Gambier pearls are considered the finest pearls in the world!).