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.
Xikai (St. Joseph Cathedral)
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
#StJosephCathedral (Chinese: #圣若瑟主教座堂 ), also known as Lao #XikaiCatholicChurch (Chinese: #老西開堂 ), is a #RomanCatholicChurch located in the central commercial district and original #FrenchConcession of #Tianjin city, #China. The #cathedral is one of Tianjin’s protected historical relics. The church was built in 1913 under the name of MG Church before it was renamed St. Joseph's Church. It continues to be the largest Roman Catholic Church in Tianjin. Xikai is northern China’s largest Roman-style church, with an area of 1891.95 square meters and can accommodate 1,500 people. The giant #dome has a "product" shape with a green copper surface on the outside, supported by a wood structure and topped with a bronze cross. However, 80 years later when the area became a commercial center for Tianjin, the church was no longer the tallest building and therefore no longer required a lightning rod. Xikai’s walls are checkered with red and yellow tiles and framed with white water masonry. Circular windows, columns, large indoor paintings, a large pipe organ, and semi-circular windows accent the building. The entrance consists of two doors in the back of #Xikai, originally meant to allow men and women to enter through separate doors. The interior of Xikai is based on #French and #Roman architecture styles. The long main hall is lined by 14 large columns (two rows of seven), leading to a gallery-style tee. The nave has a stacked composite side portico, supported by semi-circular tops. The tall central dome consists of an octagonal drum roof that complements the octagonal windows throughout the church. Its side windows are stained glass with inlay painting. Painted, ornate murals, full of Biblical scenes, cover the walls. #VSCO #VSCOcam #天津 #Tientsin #老西开堂 #法国使馆区 #中国 #China #西开教堂 #天津西开教堂 #天主教堂 #Chinagram #Architecture #Building #Church #Holy
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.
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.
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.
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.