A relic of the Portuguese
Published/Last edited or updated: 6th September, 2017
The crimson dome of Santa Cruz Church towers beside the Chao Phraya River as a reminder of the Portuguese who were the first Westerners to befriend Siam. The nearby Baan Kudi Chin Museum and a clutch of Portuguese-influenced bakeries join in to offer a charming and educational excursion in old Thonburi.
Some kings of Ayutthaya hired Portuguese sell-swords alongside Samurai from Japan as their personal bodyguards, while Portuguese traders imported muskets and other munitions. After the Burmese destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, some of the Portuguese joined General Taksin in a successful campaign to repel the invaders. A couple of years later, an appreciative King Taksin granted the Portuguese a plot of land just south of his new palace in Thonburi.
The king bestowed this land on a day in 1769 that coincided with the Catholic holiday, the Triumph of the Holy Cross (or Santa Cruz in Portuguese). The first Santa Cruz Church was built of wood, and some of the area’s Chinese residents added flashes of their own style during a 19th century renovation. This resulted in the church’s nickname, Kudi Chin (also spelt Jeen), which means “Chinese Church.” The surrounding village still goes by this name.
In the early 20th century, a team of Italian architects employed by Siam rebuilt the church with a Romanesque look. Rimmed by statues of Christ, Mary and Joseph, the brick-and-mortar edifice still grabs the eyes of people passing by in public river ferries. Thai-language mass is held on Sunday at 06:00, 08:00 and 18:00, but the sanctuary is typically not open at other times. You can however stroll the grounds to peep the stained glass and ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Bangkok