St. Joseph Cathedral, Tianjin

St. Joseph Cathedral, also known as Old Xikai Catholic Church, lies at the southern end of Binjiang Avenue in Heping District. It is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in Tianjin, even the largest one in northern China. It is also called the French Church because it is located in the original French Concession and was built by French missionaries in 1916. The structure has been repaired and expanded many times to become the size that we see today. St. Joseph Cathedral with its grand architecture style and expressive religious art is one of Tianjin’s most cherished historical sites.

 

Exterior

Walking past a statue of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by candles and flowers, at the front of the cathedral, you arrive at an impressive entrance. The windows and front doorway employ exquisite arch construction dating from the European Middle Ages. Symbolic of the Catholic religion, St. Joseph Cathedral is built in the shape of a cross when viewed from above. It is 196 feet (60 meters) long and 98 feet (30meters) wide, covering an area of 20,300 square feet (1,890 square meters). The building features three tall towers with copper-covered domes and bronze crosses on top. The two front towers rise to more than 131 feet (40 meters) while the rear tower reaches 155 feet (47 meters). The copper domes have oxidized over the years giving their textured surfaces a rustic charm. The church facade, constructed of alternating bands of red and white brick, immediately projects a feeling of dignity and elegance.

 

Interior

Walking inside you will marvel at the wisdom of the people who built the St. Joseph Cathedral, the rich Bible stories inspiring the works of religious art, as well as the splendid style of the interior itself. Gentle hues - light blue, white and light yellow - will make you feel refreshed and relaxed. Fourteen square pillars supporting the roof stand in two lines going from either side of the entrance to the altar at the innermost area of the building. Visually, these two rows of tall pillars with their decorative carved patterns divide the church into three long passageways. Going forward from the altar you will find that decorated square pillars are also used in the nave. The nave itself can hold as many as 1,500 people at one time. Oil paintings recording the sufferings of Jesus are hung on the walls. The religious paintings and murals create a mysterious and solemn atmosphere. Colorful statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus and the Angels can also be seen. The three domed towers feature stained glass windows depicting Biblical scenes.

To one side you will find a small wooden structure called a confessionary with a tiny cross on the top. Here, a Catholic Father receives parishioners who wish to make a confession.

Celebrations and activities are held on Sundays or Catholic holidays in the St. Joseph Cathedral.

 

Transportation:

1. Take metro line 1 or line 3 and get off at Yingkoudao (Yingkou Avenue). Walk south to Xining Avenue, then walk northwest to the church.
2. Take bus line 3, 45, 50, 503, 600, 606, 631, 632, 641, 643, 650, 657, 659, 669, 673, 678, 800, 840, 842, 847, 851, 865, 867, 870, 901, 906, 954 or Sightseeing Bus Line 2, and get off at Binjiangdao (Binjiang Avenue). Walk about 5 minutes to the church.
 Tianjin Bus / Metro Search
 
Admission Fee Free                                                                                                                                   
Opening Hours Monday to Saturday: 5:00 - 16:30;
Sunday: 5:00 - 20:00
Mass Time Monday to Saturday: 6:00, 7:30
Sunday: 6:00, 7:30 (public mass and benediction), 10:00, 11:30 (in English), 15:00, 19:00

 Nearby Attraction:
Wudadao Sightseeing Street: Widely recognized as an "international architecture exposition” with a variety of exotic buildings.

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