Historic Churches in Wenzhou
Sitting on the ancient Chengxi street in Lucheng District, Wenzhou, Chengxi Christian Church is a long-history church built in the 19th century. With a total area of 1,600 square meters, it is the largest Christian church in Wenzhou. The grey-brick church is decorated with Gothic arched windows with a main chapel, a gospel hall and a building for clergies. Well preserved in its original style, the 13.46-meter-high church is listed as a major historical and cultural site protected at the provincial level in Zhejiang Province.
In 1877, Robert Inkerman Exley, a missionary sent by British United Methodist Free Church came to Wenzhou to teach local people about Christianity. In 1878, he started to build a church on the Chengxi street in the downtown Wenzhou. In 1884 during the Sino-French war, a riot against foreigners took place in Wenzhou, and the church was set fire to and destroyed together with other five churches in the city of Wenzhou. In the winter of 1882, British missionary William Edward Soothill came to Wenzhou for evangelism. He stayed and missioned in the area of Wenzhou for 25 years. In 1898, he presided over the reconstruction of Chengxi Christian Church.
Located on the Zhouzaichi Lane in the downtown Wenzhou, St. Paul Cathedral in Wenzhou was first built in 1874 and rebuilt in 1888 after it was totally destroyed in 1884 in a riot against foreigners. The Gothic cathedral was once a landmark in the city of Wenzhou with a 35-meter-high bell tower and the biggest cathedral in the southern Zhejiang Province.
The main hall of the cathedral, occupying an area of 689.25 square meters, is able to contain more than 1000 Catholics with an umbrella-like roof, arched windows, pillars decorated with plum blossoms. Those rose windows, ionic columns and vertical lines all show typical Gothic characteristics. On the east of the cathedral lies a building for priests and a garden etc. In 2011, the cathedral was listed as a major historical and cultural site protected at the provincial level in Zhejiang Province. In order to preserve the historical architecture, a project was launched to reinforce the old cathedral and completed in 2013.
The Christian church on Huayuan Lane in Wenzhou has a history of more than 130 years. In 1867, George Stott, a British missionary sent by China Inland Mission in the U.K, came to Wenzhou for evangelism with an interpreter from Ningbo at a site on Huayuan Lane. In 1877, a church was built at the same site. In 1890, the church was rebuilt after being burnt in an 1884 riot. The church now consists of several buildings built in the traditional Chinese style.