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Churches of Bangkok Thailand

Bangkok a crossroads where people of different races, regions and religions have for centuries converged. Part of its success, and of what makes it so stimulating, lies in its ability through the ages to integrate and engage these immigrant groups peacefully, in a way conducive to trade, the exchange of ideas and to prosperity.

Buddhism dominates, religious tolerance and respect has long helped facilitate this coexistence, and is evident still today in Bangkok's myriad other places of worship. Many are wonderful examples of foreign or colonial architecture.

Santa Cruz Church, Kudi Jeen, Thonburi, Bangkok
Portuguese have been allies with Thailand since 1516, when they began supplying the country with arms and ammunitions to help ward off Burmese aggression. After the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767, and with it the Catholic church there, King Taksin granted permission for them to build another one in the new capital Thonburi, a gift in recognition of their vital services. Nestled on the banks of the Chao Phraya, the idiosyncratic result is this church in the Kudi Jeen area. Originally made from wood, it fell into disrepair until a Cardinal had it rebuilt in 1835 and renamed it Santa Cruz Church.

Holy Rosary Church, near River City Complex, Bangkok
originally built on the banks of the Chao Phraya in 1768, following a land grant by King Rama I, the Portuguese Catholic church seen today is the result of rebuilding work between 1891 and 1898. This restoration lent it its Neo-Gothic style, furnishing it with its impressive statue of the Virgin Mary, towering spire, elegant cream exterior, curving gilded stucco ceilings and beautiful coloured stained glass windows. The latter depict stories from the Old and New Testament. In Thai it is known as the Kalawar Church, a name originally derived from the name of the hill where Jesus Christ was crucified.

Christ Church, 11 Convent Road, Sathorn, Bangkok
an influx of protestant missionaries in the early to mid 19th Century, King Rama IV granted land for a church to be built to serve them in Charoenkrung Road. However, it wasn't long until the English Church was overstretched. In 1904 King Rama V granted permission for a bigger and more centrally located church to be built.

Assumption Cathedral, 23 Oriental Lane, Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok
Located in Bangrak, this is Bangkok's principal Roman Catholic cathedral and the main church of the Archdiocese of Bangkok, which dates back to 1662. It was built between 1910 and 1918 to replace an earlier church on the same spot, and repaired after sustaining severe damage during World War II. Pope John Paul II visited during his trip in 1984.

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, Charoenkrung Road, Chinatown, Bangkok
Bangkok's most important and largest Chinese-Buddhist temple is the hub of festivities during festivals like Chinese New Year and contains spectacular Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian shrines. It dates back to 1872, and was called Wat Leng Nui Yee until King Rama V changed it to Wat Mangkon Kamalawat.

Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, Corner Pan and Silom Roads, Silom, Bangkok
Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Mariamman was built by Tamil immigrants in the 1860s. Renowned for her power to protect against disease and death, it remains a popular place of worship for Silom's long-established Indian community. Its riotous blend of rich colours and ornate decoration makes for an unmistakable and rather unexpected sight in the heart of Silom.

Darulmuttageen Mosque, 18/1 Khu Khwo Road, Nong Chok, Bangkok
This old mosque on the bank of the Saen Sap Canal was once a simple construction, built of nothing more than wood and covered by a modest thatched roof. Over 100 years ago local Muslims raised funds and employed Chinese contractors to rebuild it. Completed in 1893, its most impressive artifacts are the 'mimbar', a harmoniously decorated wooden pulpit from which the imam preaches, and a wooden arch intricately carved with foliage and vine patterns, from where he leads prayers.

Haroon Mosque, 25 Charoenkrung Road, Chinatown, Bangkok
Found amidst a web of alleyways near the famous Oriental Hotel, the Haroon Mosque is one of the most famous and oldest in the city.

Guru Tawan Sikh Temple, 66 Charoenkrung Road, Little India, Pahurat, Bangkok
A white six-story Sikh temple topped with golden dome. It was built in 1932 and is the second largest of its kind outside India. On the fourth floor is the congregation hall, and on the fifth an international school. The top floor is the main prayer area, and has a copy of Sikhism's holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, interned on a flower-filled altar. Visitors must remove shoes and cover their heads with a provided orange cloth in accordance with Sikh customs.

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