Saturday, October 3, 2009

Even a cathedral: Taiwan's rich Christian architecture (

Christianity has deep roots in Taiwan. The religion has been a continuous part of the island's religious landscape since the 1860s, although it arrived on Taiwan's shores much earlier. Spanish Dominicans arrived in the north in 1626; at the same time Dutch Protestant missionaries launched a conversion effort in the southwest.

No more than one in 20 Taiwanese is Protestant or Catholic, but Christian places of worship can be found in every corner of the ROC. Among them are buildings designed by world-famous architects, naves rich in local art, and even some intriguing examples of stained glass.

In recent years non-Christian Taiwanese have begun to embrace these chapels, basilicas and mission houses. Some want to learn how Christianity has influenced the development of Taiwanese society. For other Taiwanese, churches as exotic as folk temples are to visiting Westerners.

Many of the missionaries active in Taiwan in the late 19th century – men such as George L. Mackay and James L. Maxwell – were financially backed by co-religionists in their home countries. Some used this funding to purchase plots of land in locations that today would be unimaginably expensive or reserved for government use.

Taipei's Chi-nan Presbyterian Church, which faces Zhongshan South Road right beside the Legislative Yuan, is an example. Designed by Moli Yamasi of Japan and completed in 1916 for the use of students and faculty at what is now National Taiwan University Medical College, this building is something of a pastiche...

To read the entire article, go here.

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