St Joseph’s Church

Church in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

A crowning edifice on Wangfujing Dajie, and one of Běijīng’s four principal churches, St Joseph’s is known locally as Dōng Táng (East Cathedral). Originally built during the reign of Shunzhi in 1655, it was damaged by an earthquake in 1720 and reconstructed. The luckless church also caught fire in 1807, was destroyed again in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion and restored in 1904, only to be shut in 1966. Now fully repaired, the church is a testament to the long history of Christianity in China.

A large square in front swarms with kids skateboarding, newlyweds posing for photographs and elderly folk meeting up in the early evening for formation dancing. Unless you're here for an early morning service, it's not open to visitors. Mass is held in English every Sunday at 7am.