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Jingliao Holy Cross Church


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Jingliao Holy Cross Church

The tiny village of Jingliao and its surrounding countryside present the visitor with a romantic pastoral landscape that still preserves many of Taiwan’s rural traditions. To arrive in this town, with its Old Street, historic Chinese herbal medicine shop, and traditional homes are to take a nostalgic glimpse into a time when most of western Taiwan consisted of peaceful farmland dotted with the occasional small hamlet...

…with one exception. Just 400 meters east of Old Street, across the road from the local school and surrounded by open farmland, stands Jingliao Holy Cross Church, looking disconcertingly like a cross between a medieval European castle and an alien spaceship come to earth.

This little church set among the rice paddies of Jingliao has the distinction of being the first-ever design of famed German architect and Pritzker Prize winner Gottfried Böhm. Built in 1955, the church is made up of a compound of buildings topped by an extraordinary pyramid- and cone-shaped spires clad in shimmery aluminum alloy, which many views as a modernist reference to the traditional rice stacks that used to be found everywhere during harvest time.

Böhm never saw his church in person. Unable to make the trip himself at the time, he drew up the plans in Germany at the request of the local parish priest (fellow German Eric Jansen, a Franciscan priest then stationed in Jingliao) and sent them over to Taiwan, where local builders constructed the church.

An exhibit in the church traces its history and houses a display that includes photos of the open, thatch-roofed pavilion that served as the original church building. Also on view is a Bible written in Romanized Taiwanese that was used to help foreign missionaries preach in the local language.

Tourists wishing to see the inside of Jingliao Holy Cross Church is asked to call in advance to arrange a visit. Photographs of the interior are not allowed, and guests are asked to behave in a respectful manner.


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  No. 294-1, Jingliao, Molin Vil., Houbi Dist., Tainan City