In search of angels in the City of Angels

24 04 2011

Bangkok, the City of Angels, is a city that has always managed to surprise me with a delightful find every time I have the time to wander around it. So it was to be on my last visit there recently, in which I was able to seek out not one, but two beautiful houses of worship, both Catholic, along the Chao Phraya River. The first, off Charoen Krung (New Road), which I understand is the first paved road in Thailand, is set amongst some delightful pieces of European style buildings in the old Farang Quarter of Bangkok, far, as it seemed to be; from the hustle and bustle that Bangkok has come to be associated with. The house of worship is the Assumption Cathedral, built in 1910 with an Romanesque fashioned red brick exterior with twin towers and a centre rose window, featuring an elaborately gorgeous Rococo style interior that is unusual as churches in this part of the world go.

The gorgeous Rococo style interior of the Assumption Cathedral.

The rose window see from the interior.

The Romanesque red brick exterior of the cathedral.

Another view of the Rococo interior of the Cathedral.

Stained glass panels inside the Cathedral.

Around the square where the Cathedral is are some other wonderful examples of European style architecture, the Venetian style East Asiatic Company building by the river being one, complete with a Venetian style skyway. Another notable building is the Renaissance style Catholic Centre, also by the river, from which I chanced upon the Archbishop Emeritus of Bangkok, Michael Michai Cardinal Kitbunchu emerging. The area around the Cathedral also contains the Assumption College, the Assumption Convent, the Catholic Mission and several other buildings.

The East Asiatic Company building as seen from the river.

The East Asiatic Company building as seen from the side.

Arches along the building's side.

A skyway between buildings.

The Renaissance style Catholic Centre by the river.

Chanced upon His Grace, Michael Michai Cardinal Kitbunchu, Archbishop Emeritus of Bangkok emerging from the Catholic Centre.

The Assumption Convent.

From the area where the Cathedral is, I continued further north along the river. This took me past the Central Post Office and about a kilometre up Charoen Krung, I came to the Neo Gothic style Holy Rosary Church, referred to locally as Wat Kalawar, after the Thai word for Calvary. The church had its origins in the Portuguese who settled in Bangkok, and was built originally in the late 1700s, and one that was rebuilt at the end of the 1800s, and now catering to the Vietnamese and Cambodian community. The church’s interior has been wonderfully restored over the years and features a gilded ceiling and some magnificent Romanesque stained glass. Certainly, the search for angels in the City of Angels, was one that yielded not just a few angels, but some gems of churches in a city that is perhaps better known for its beautiful Buddhist temples, gems that on the evidence of what I had seen, are some of the best to be found in South East Asia.

I continued north up Charoen Krung ...

... past the Central Post Office ...

... coming to another Catholic church by the river, the Holy Rosary Church, built originally by the Portuguese.

The façade of the Holy Rosary Church.

Where, I did find an angel, in the form of a holy water font.

The interior of the church.

Another view of the interior.

The church features some wonderful Romanesque style stained glass panels.

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