Some Catholics believe that it is imperative to make a wish when visiting a church for the first time. And so I built this tradition of going to a Catholic Church whenever I travel. Besides making wishes, it is also nice to see how similar and how different, these structures look. They are all Catholic, yes. But because of the different histories and cultures of every nation, the framework and designs of these buildings tell different stories as well.
Here are some of the churches I have visited over the years.
1. Myeongdong Cathedral – Seoul, South Korea
The most iconic cathedral in Korea is also the national cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Seoul. It is visited by millions of tourists every year thanks to its strategic location near the shopping streets of Myeongdong. Better to visit this place at night as they have a field of LED roses that light up when it is dark. I actually feel bad that I did not get a picture of the lit up roses.
2. Holy Redeemer Church – Bangkok, Thailand
We all know Bangkok is famous for its temples. But I could not let this vacation pass without visiting a church. So I pulled out my phone and looked for a Catholic Church through… you guessed it right, GOOGLE! I remember having to navigate a zig zag of streets before finally getting here. As you can see, the structure is very Thai looking. I was told that those sharp looking structures on the roof are called lamyong and is very common in Thai architecture. It is really cool in a sense that it very unique.
3. St. Peter’s Church – Shanghai, China
It was Palm Sunday last 2019 when I visited this church. I actually got to this place through my “tour group” in Couchsurfing. When we arrived at the church it was full of people and most of them were my pinoy kababayans! Goes to show how devout Filipino Catholics are wherever they may be in the world. The thing about this church is that the actuall mass is held at the 2nd level. First floor just looked like a lobby where some bibles and prayer books were sold.
4. St. Joseph’s Cathedral – Hanoi, Vietnam
This is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen. It exudes the history and culture for when Vietnam was under French occupation. Of course, if you are a travel buff you surely know that this is a tourist destination in Hanoi. It is located in Hoan Kiem District where most tourist attractions and backpacker hostels are. Some of the fellow travelers I met said that this resembles Notre Dame Paris. Haven’t seen that in person, so let me know?
5. Manila Cathedral – Manila, Philippines
This cathedral is located in the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila and was established during the Spanish Occupation. When you visit this church you will feel (and see) the Spanish influence. This building is so old that it has been damaged and rebuilt several times over the centuries. Pope Francis held his first papal mass in the country in this very church! I highly recommend you visit this place when you come to the Philippines.
6. Gereja Katolik St. Fransiskus Asisi – Bali, Indonesia
The latest country I traveled to was Bali in Indonesia. Unlike the other churches I have visited over the years, this was one where I was not able to see the inside as it was closed at that time. I also just searched this through Google maps but I was not really able to gather much info. If you know more about this building’s history, please message me. I would love to know more!
Anyway, that’s it! I hope once everything normalizes I would be able to visit more churches. It is fun to see the similarities and differences as you hop from one country to another. How about you? What are your must visit places when you go travel?