The Most Beautiful Places of Worship in Tianjin

Tianjin Temple | © Gill Penney/Flickr
<a href="”>Tianjin Temple | © Gill Penney/Flickr</a>
Jon Santangelo

Tianjin is the definition of a modern capitalistic metropolis, yet its religious prevalence cannot be ignored. Some of China’s most beautiful temples, churches and sanctuaries are right here in Tianjin, so come discover what they are!

Even if you’re not much on the practicing of worship side, you’ll appreciate the immaculate infusion of European architectural design into Chinese culture, and the active temples that predate colonialism going back 600 years or more. Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim and Taoist faiths are all represented and still practiced today in the following beautiful sites in Tianjin.

1. Xikai (St. Joseph Cathedral)

Cathedral, Church

As downtown Tianjin’s cathedral with the most notoriety, the Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph (Xikai), built in 1916, still carries out bilingual masses today. A longtime place of interest for Chinese who are curious to learn about Western religion, Xikai’s local visitors by far outnumber its foreign ones. Inside the cathedral are elegant paintings and statues of Christ and Mary, as well as the traditional stations of the cross and a pulpit. If you’re fortunate to come on Christmas Eve or Easter, the pews are jam-packed with both curious Chinese onlookers and devout followers of Catholicism. Often #1 on many Tianjin visitors’ lists, this worship site is not to be missed.

9, Xining Road, Heping District, Tianjin, China, +022 2781 1929

Dabei Buddhist Monastery (Dabeiyuan)

Hidden in the middle of Tianjin’s tall and mighty skyscrapers, this is not your typical tourist spot. If you don’t know Dabeiyuan’s exact location then you’ll have to search for it – the best clues are a few English signs, an obscure arch, and an ancient red building. Dabeiyuan was ravaged during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been restored. It dates back to the ancient Ming and Qing dynasty eras. Enjoy roaming this temple that is truly a maze made up various halls, but try to avoid getting lost! Tip: when you’re unsure what hall you’re in or what’s displayed, refer to the second page of your ticket that shows the map of the temple. Whether you are Buddhist or just an appreciator of Chinese history, this tucked-away authentic monastery is worth the hunt. And the entrance fee is only 5 RMB.

2. Wanghailou Church

Cathedral, Church

On the bank of Haihe River near the Tianjin Eye sits this amazing Catholic cathedral that has survived the weathering of the Boxer Rebellions and the Communist Revolution of 1949. After nearly a century, the “sea view tower” (wang hai lou) church stands amazingly unchanged, and still functions as a practicing sanctuary. This cultural relic was designed by Frenchmen during the European occupation era of the early 1900s. Although it is located in a small corner of a busy street, the sight of this serene structure provides a piece of calm in the city. The external architecture closely resembles historic cathedrals in western Europe, however, with its own Chinese characteristic: it’s made of local bricks in assorted dark red colors, just as many other premodern buildings are in Tianjin.

No.292 Shizilin Avenue, Hebei District, Tianjin300143, China

3. The Tianjin Great Mosque


Differing from the religions of the East and West that shaped Tianjin is the faith that originated in the Middle-East: Islam. An Arabian-style imposing palace that stands alive to Muslims in the area, the temple is exotic in the sense that Catholicism, Buddhism, and Taoism are the most recognizable religious sites in Tianjin. Conveniently located by the Aqua City Supermarket and in close proximity to the Xizhan subway station, the Great Mosque is about 5 kilometers (>3 miles) from downtown in the northwestern Hongqiao district. Also, as a religion that was not born from The East, it is an enlightening experience to see how this temple and faith is preserved, interpreted and honored today in China. As you may have noticed, Tianjin has its own Uyghur (Muslim Chinese) community.

4. Chaoyin Temple

The only cultural relic of the Tanggu district open to the public, the Chaoyin Temple was built in 1404 during the Ming Dynasty. Surviving multiple ravenous attacks throughout its 600-year history, most of the temple was all but destroyed until 1992’s reconstruction. This sacred site acknowledges faiths of Buddhism, Taoism, and other local practices. Alongside its unique geographical location and a long history, cultural folk activities are still occasionally held here. While you’re visiting, you may encounter fishermen come to burn incense to honor Buddha and seek the blessing of the gods. If you’d like to partake in this ritual, the temple offers incense sticks as well as tourist souvenirs and Buddhist practice supplies.

No.1 Xigu Chaoyin Temple Avenue, Tanggu District, Tianjin 300452, China +86 22 2531 2929

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