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Santa Cruz Church and Baan Kudi Chin Museum

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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.





The Portuguese were the first Westerners to set foot in Siam/Thailand, arriving in the early 1500s after conquering the Straits of Melaka. Despite looking like aliens to the average Siamese, they quickly established a trading partnership with the royal court at Ayutthaya and a sense of mutual affection between the two countries has survived to this day.

Joseph and lamb. Photo taken in or around Santa Cruz Church and Baan Kudi Chin Museum, Bangkok, Thailand 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 ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
From the west end of Memorial Bridge (aka Saphan Phut), take the stairs down and head north, following the road as it cuts away from the river. Then turn right down Arun Ammarin Soi 4 and look for the sign marking the church on the right, across from the entrance to Wat Prayoon. Alternately, catch a cross-river ferry at Yodpiman Pier and take the riverside lane south from Wat Kalayanamit to the church.

Santa Cruz Church and Baan Kudi Chin Museum
Arun Ammarin Soi 4, Thonburi
Church: Mo–Su: 08:00–18:00 Baan Kudi Chin Museum Tu–Su: 09:30–18:00
Admission: Free

Location map for Santa Cruz Church and Baan Kudi Chin Museum

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