St. Joseph’s Church, commonly known as Wangfujing Catholic Church or East Church, is located on the eastern side of central Wangfujing Street. It is one of the four Catholic churches in Beijing, noted for its mixture of European and Chinese features in its design. The St. Joseph’s Church has been regarded as one of the best-preserved religious sites in the heart of Beijing.
The church was built in 1655 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Originally the site was an apartment for two missionaries from Italy and Portugal, who subsequently founded a small church on the open ground. It was the second Catholic church built in Beijing after Italian preacher Matteo Ricci built the South Cathedral in southern Beijing at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Its gray Gothic structure has endured a torrid history. The present building was rebuilt in 1904 on the ruins of the burned church.
Because of its geographic location, the St. Joseph’s Church faces west. It utilizes Romanesque Revival architecture, featuring pilasters and three bell towers. The hall is supported by 18 round brick columns 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.
In front of the church is a square of 1.2 hectares, where stands a statue of the Madonna and Child. Trees and grass were planted there and various lighting facilities were installed to show off the gorgeous building at night.
St. Joseph’s Church was closed in 1966, the year when the “cultural revolution” started. Since the Christmas of 1980, the church resumed. It offers Christmas services. And nowadays the newlyweds would like to have their wedding photos taken with the church in the background and some wish to have the ceremonies held in the church.
Address: 74 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing.
Getting there: You can take subway Line 1 and get off at Wangfujing Station (below the Oriental plaza). The church is about 500 meters north of this station exit.