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Myeongdong Cathedral

Near to Young Nak Presbyterian Church — just across the street, really — is Myeongdong Cathedral, arguably Korea’s most beautiful piece of non-Buddhist religious architecture, the spiritual center of Korea’s Catholic community and a fortress in Korea’s democratization movement.

Unfortunately, the exterior of the cathedral is undergoing a lengthy restoration, which means there was little in the way of photographic material… or at least the kind of stuff I wanted to shoot. I did get some shots of the beautiful red-and-grey brick walls, however:

Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral

Then there was this sculpture in front of the Priests’ Hall:

Sculpture, Myeongdong Cathedral

UPDATE

During lunch today, I sneaked into the cathedral to take a couple of inside shots. You’ve got to love the high, rib-vaulted ceiling — very reminiscent of the great cathedrals of Europe (not that I’ve actually seen one of the great cathedrals of Europe, of course):

Interior, Myeongdong Cathedral

Altar, Myeongdong Cathedral

The Archdiocese of Seoul was also kind enough to give me the OK to post these photographs taken Sunday. As you enter the cathedral grounds, you’ll notice a number of very old buildings at the bottom of the hill to the right. They are now used mostly as administrative buildings for the archdiocese of Seoul, although one also contains — from what I understand — the office of Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jin-Suk, so they don’t let people wander around much down there. Anyway, the security guy let me in briefly to take a couple of shots, which I share with you:

Old Bishop's Residence, Myeongdong Cathedral

This building — the old Bishop’s Residence — might not look like much, but it may very well be Korea’s oldest existent Western-style building. Designed by Father Eugene Coste, it was probably completed in 1890 — see this photo taken in the early 1890s while the cathedral was under construction. The building may have in fact been a testbed for Coste to prove his architectural skills before trying his hand at the cathedral. It is now used as an auditorium and administrative building, and may soon become a museum.

Seoul Archdiocese Office, Myeongdong Cathedral

This building, too, is used as an administrative building by the archdiocese. It’s a beautiful old structure with tons of character. Built in 1927.

Seoul Archdiocese Office, Myeongdong Cathedral

Seoul Archdiocese Office, Myeongdong Cathedral

Seoul Archdiocese Office, Myeongdong Cathedral

Seoul Archdiocese Office, Myeongdong Cathedral

Don’t forget the Flickr slideshow.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • Seth Gecko

    Ok, enough with the churches. I need my Korean news fix!

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Good shots and commentary, Robert.

    > (not that I’ve actually seen one of
    > the great cathedrals of Europe)

    Duuuude, ya GOT to go to Italy for vacation (we took our honeymoon there) — St. Peter’s Bascilica is the cathedral of all cathedrals… after that no other church is impressive, it’s like visiting Nepal and then viewing our Samgak-san…

  • http://thirstyscribe.blogspot.com DN

    Thanks for posting these. Brings back good memories of my visit to that cathedral. There are some tapestries on the side walls of that cathedral of St. Andrew Kim etc, along with a basement chapel housing some holy relics.

  • http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com sewing

    Ah, you’re off your Presbyterian kick!

    The Bishop’s Residence is a rather curious-looking building. Too bad you couldn’t get some more good exterior shots. A longer essay on the cathedral’s history might have been in order, too.

    But who am I to complain? Your photo essays are always enjoyable.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Duuuude, ya GOT to go to Italy for vacation (we took our honeymoon there) — St. Peter’s Bascilica is the cathedral of all cathedrals… after that no other church is impressive, it’s like visiting Nepal and then viewing our Samgak-san…

    True, but Myeongdong Cathedral is as close as you’ll get in Korea. In fact, as far as I know, it’s the only Catholic church in the country with rib vaults — even Dapdong Cathedral in Incheon and Jeondong Cathedral in Jeonju (which I’ll be visiting this weekend) appear to have only barrel vaults.

    The Bishop’s Residence is a rather curious-looking building. Too bad you couldn’t get some more good exterior shots. A longer essay on the cathedral’s history might have been in order, too.

    You’re probably right, but I thought I’d wait until the building’s restoration was complete so I could do a proper photo essay.

  • R. Elgin

    Those are such nice interior shots Robert! Thanks for posting them.

  • bigguy

    nice shots

    are you using the camera that you mentioned in this post?

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2007/02/22/sungnyemun-at-night/

    ( Canon PowerShot SD700)

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Indeed I am. For a point-and-click, it’s not bad, although I’m in the market for something a bit more substantial, something along the lines of a Nikon D40x.

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