Beijing East Church

Located at Wangfujing Street in Beijing, the East Church (also known as Wangfujing Catholic Church) is the most conspicuous cathedral in Beijing. It was the second Catholic Church which was built only after the South Cathedral. It was originally named after Joseph, the father of Jesus Christ, as ‘Saint Joseph’s Church’. After several restorations in recent years, it has become not only an important venue of Catholics, but also a cultural site with unique features in the Wangfujing Area.
East Church
East Church
Statue in front of East Church
Statue in front of Church
East Church
Peaceful Square
The East Church was built in 1655 by Ludovicus Buglio (1606 - 1682) and Gabriel de Magalhaens. When they first came to China, they mainly did missionary work in Sichuan Province. In the early period of Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), they were captured by soldiers and then worked in the Prince Su's Mansion. In 1655, Emperor Shunzhi granted them a piece of land, on which they later built the East Church to facilitate the religious activities of Catholics. Tang Ruowang (Johann Adam Schall von Bell), a famous German missionary in Qing Dynasty spent his late years in the East Church. Nan Huairen (Ferdinand Verbiest), Lang Shining (Giuseppe Castiglione) and many other western missionaries once lived there too. Lang Shining’s masterpiece, the portrait of ‘Jesus Christ with a Kind Heart’ is hung over the side-altar. In 1720, East Church collapsed as a result of earthquake and was rebuilt the following year. In 1807, the priests’ house was ruined by a big fire caused by carelessness. Bishop Tian rebuilt it in 1884. In 1990, the church was burnt down again during the Yihetuan Movement. In 1905, France and Ireland jointly rebuilt the it as we see now. The restored East Church and its surroundings have formed the largest outdoor leisure space in the commercial street of Wangfujing Area.

Its architectural style is Romanesque with Chinese architectural features. The whole building is of gray brick and wood structure. It is a typical model of the fusion of Chinese and western architecture style.

After the original surrounding walls were removed, the European-gray-spire building takes off its mysterious coat and comes into the sight of tourists.

The Catholic Church is situated in the middle of the East Church, facing the west. The church sits on a bluestone base. There are three crosses on the top, among which the middle one is bigger than the side ones. The hall is supported by 18 round brick columns. The diameter of each column is 65 cm (2 feet) and the base of each column is square. On both sides of the hall hang many oil paintings like Crucifixion of Jesus or Passion of the Christ. Besides, many precious religious paintings drawn by Giuseppe Castiglione are preserved.

The square in front of the church, covering over 8,000 square meters ( 8,6000 square feet), is now completed. The square is surrounded by trees and on both sides there are benches for pedestrians. Now, it is not only a convenient mass center for the catholic, but also a place for visitors to explore the religious culture and even a popular scene for some youths in Beijing to take wedding photos.

1.Take Bus 103, 102, 104, 803, 814, 808 and get off at Dong’anmen Market, then head north about 300yd (270m).
2. Take Subway Line 5 and get down at the Dengshikou, then head toward Cypress Hutong for about 300yd (270m)
 Beijing Bus / Subway Search
Location: 74, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District.
Opening Time: every morning (times may vary)
Mass Times: Sunday Mass, 06:15, 07:00, 08:00 (Chinese), 16:00 (English); Daily Mass: 06:30 & 07:00 (Chinese)

 See More Churches in Beijing

 Further Reading: Christianity in China

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