Santa Cruz Church and Baan Kudi Chin Museum

Santa Cruz Church and Baan Kudi Chin Museum

A relic of the Portuguese

More on Bangkok

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.

Travelfish says:
Joseph and lamb. Photo by: David Luekens.
Joseph and lamb. Photo: David Luekens

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.

Could easily be standing in Lisbon. Photo by: David Luekens.
Could easily be standing in Lisbon. Photo: David Luekens

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.)

Log in to Travelfish

Please sign in to read the rest of this page. The full text is around 500 words.

Log in now
Become a Travelfish member

Choose from a free two-day pass right through to a lifetime membership.

Find out more

Reviewed by

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.

Tours in Thailand



Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Bangkok

No pic at the moment — Sorry!
Erawan Museum

Entrancing

Artist House at Khlong Bang Luang
Artist House at Khlong Bang Luang

Great for art lovers and kids

Wat Pho
Wat Pho

The city's top attraction

No pic at the moment — Sorry!
Yoga in Bangkok

Go on, it's good for you

Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat

Atmospheric with a rich history

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

Home to Thailand's most sacred Buddha image

Vimanmek Mansion
Vimanmek Mansion

The world’s largest teak mansion

Pak Khlong Talad
Pak Khlong Talad

So many blossoms

Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit

Five tonnes of gold