Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism…religion in Beijing is as diverse as its architecture; temples, churches, mosques and synagogues are all present. Call in advance to inquire if there is English-languages service.
Beijing’s over 40 mosques are testament to the substantial population of Muslims in China. Having arrived through trade links with Persia during the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279), Islam became a fully accepted religion during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Today, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is still home to the greatest number of Muslims in China.
Dongsi Mosque 东四清真寺
Service hours: daily 8am-5pm
Transport: Bus 101, 812, 116, 110 to Dongsi (东四)
No.13, Dongsi Nandajie, Dongcheng district.
Originally built in 1356 and rebuilt in 1447 by a general, it is home to the Beijing Branch of the Chinese Islamic Association. The Mosque’s library preserves the oldest manuscript of the Koran. Non-Muslims are not allowed to attend services.
Records have Christianity first setting foot on Chinese soil in the 7th century, but it was later, with the arrival of the Jesuits in the 1670s and of the first protestant missionaries in 1807, that it really had an impact. Christianity was made legal by the Qing government following the Opium War (1840-42). Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, it has become a fully accepted and widely practiced religion. Today there are approximately four million Catholics and 10 million Protestants in China.
Beijing Protestant Church 基督教缸瓦市教堂
Service hours: 7pm-8pm (Tue); 8.30 am-9.30am (Wed); 7pm-8.30pm (Thur); 8.30am-9.30am (Fri); 7.30am-8.30am, 9am-10am, 10.30am-11.30am, 7pm-8pm (Sun)
Transport: Bus 105,102 to Gangwashi (缸瓦市) 偶然603，808 to Xisi (西四)
No.57, Xisi Nandajie. (86-10-66176181) 西四南大街57号
Formally known as the Bible Society, this Western-style church was established in 1922 by the American Protestant Church. Service in Korean is available on Sundays 2pm-3.30pm. The rest is all in Chinese.
Chongwenmen Christian Church 崇文门堂
Service hours: 7pm-8pm (Tue), 7pm-8pm (Wed), 9am-11am (Thur), 9am-10am, 6.30-7.30 pm (Fri), 8am-9.30am, 10.30am-12pm (Sun)
Transport: Bus 108, 44, 110 to Chongwenmen (崇文门)
No. D2, Hougou Hutong, Chongwen District (east of Tongren Hospital).
(86-10-65229984) 崇文区后沟胡同丁2号 (同仁医院东侧)
Now the largest home of Protestant worship in Beijing, it was known as Asbury Church when it was established in 1870. As the first church set up by the American Methodist Church in north China, and still enjoying a high level of prestige, it combines style, architecture and rich culture. Services in Chinese but with interpretation into English.
Service hours: 9am-10.30am (Tues); 7am-8am (Wed); 9am-10.30 (Thur); 9am-10.30am (Fri); 8pm-9.30pm, 10pm-11.30pm (Sun)
Transport: Bus 57,105, 120 to Zhushikou Xi (珠市口西)
Inresection of Zhushikou Xidajie and Qianmen Dajie. (86-10-63016678)
A small church with simultaneous meetings on three floors, this church is not short of worshippers. An in-house video system makes sure that everyone can see what’s going on. Services on Chinese only.
Church of St. Joseph (Dongtang Cathedral) 东堂
Service hours: daily 6.30am and 7am in Chinese; 6.15am in Latin (Sun)
Transport: Bus 103,108,111 to Dengshi Xikou (灯市西口)
No.74, Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District. (86-10-65240634)
Formally called St. Joseph’s, it may rank second in terms of importance among Beijing’s Catholic churches, but it leads the way as a photo backdrop first for wedding pictures and tourist snaps. Built in 1655 and used as a residence for two foreign abbots in the mid-1600s, the church was renovated in 2000. Services in Chinese and Latin.
Our Lady of Mt Carmel (Xitang Cathedral) 西堂
Service hours: 6.30am (Mon-Sat), 8am (Sun)
Transport: Bus 105 to Xinkai Hutong (新开胡同)
No. 130, Xizhimennei Dajia, Xicheng District. (86-10-66156619)
It’s hard to think of a church established in 1723 as young, but this Catholic church is junior to its sisters to the north, south and east. Renovated in 1912 and featuring gothic arched and ornate pillars, the church is simultaneously somber and graceful. Service in Chinese only.
St. Mary’s (Nantang Cathedral) 南堂
Service hours: 6am in Latin, 6.30am and 7.15am in Chinese (Mon-Fri); 6am in Latin, 6.30am and 7.15am in Chinese, 6.30pm in Chinese (Sat); 6am in Latin, 7am and 8.30am in Chinese, 10am and 4pm in English (Sun)
Transport: Bus 102,105,109 to Xuanwumen (宣武门)
No.141, Qianmen Xidajie, Xuanwu District. (86-10-66037139)
Also known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest Catholic Church in Beijing was established in the 16th century. It was then home to the Italian missionary Matteo Ricci. Services in Latin, Chinese and English.
Service hours: 6am and 7am (Mon-Sat); 6am, 7am, 8am, 10am and 6am (Sun)
Transport: Bus 103, 109, 101 to Fuyou Jie (府右街)
No. 33, Xishiku Dajie, Xicheng District. (86-10-66175198)
With gothic style clearly evident on its blue and white façade that is reminiscent of Rheims Cathedral in France, this church was first completed in 1703 and was moved to Xishiku in 1886. Arguably this is one of the most beautiful houses of worship in Beijing. Services in Chinese.
St. Michael’s Church 圣弥额尔天主教堂
Service hours: 6.30am and 7am (Mon-Sat); 7am, 8am and 6pm (Sun); 10.30am and 11.30am in Korean (Sun)
Transport: Bus 104, 103 to Chongwenmen (崇文门)
No. A13, Dongjiaominxiang, Dongcheng District. (86-10-65135170)
Another gothic style Catholic Church, St. Michael’s was constructed in 1901 in a special zone then reserved for foreigners. Three main spires and ornate and delicate décor add to the ambiance and beauty of the architecture. Service in Chinese and Korean.