Representative Religious Buildings in China

Chinese Religious

China is a multi-religious countryTaoismBuddhism, Islam, and Catholicism have all developed into culture-shaping communities throughout Chinese history. Freedom of belief is a government policy, and normal religious activities are protected by the constitution.

Religious architecture

Buddhist Architecture

Buddhist architecture characteristically followed the imperial style. A large Buddhist monastery normally had a front hall, housing the statue of a Bodhisattva, followed by a great hall, housing the statues of the Buddhas. Accommodations for the monks and the nuns were located at the two sides. Some of the greatest examples of Buddhist architecture are the eighteenth-century Puning Temple and Putuo Zongcheng Temple. Temple roofs, made of glazed ceramic tiles, were curved upward at the eaves to ward off evil spirits, which were believed to travel in straight lines.

The most distinctive Buddhist structures in China are the stupa (t’a) in the form of upturned bowls, or pagodas (storied towers) used to house sacred objects and relics of the Gautama Buddha. During the second and third centuries, pagodas were made primarily of wood. In the Sung dynasty (960 – 1279) they were given a tetragonal form. Tang dynasty pagodas were shaped as octagons or diagonals. The number of stories varied with each pagoda. Each successive story from the base to the summit decreased in height but retained the same proportions.[20]Some wooden residential towers, watchtowers, and pagodas that are no longer in existence are known to us through ceramic and bronze representations, and through painting and poetry. The Songyue Pagoda built in 523 is the oldest extant pagoda in China; constructed of brick instead of wood, it has endured for 15 centuries.

Daoist Architecture

Daoist architecture followed the style of commoners’ dwellings. The main entrance was usually at the side, to discourage demons who might try to enter the premises. The main deity was located at the main hall at the front, the lesser deities in the back hall and at the sides.

Chinese gardens
During the Song dynasty (960 – 1279), wealthy Chinese began designing gardens around their residences. Gardens incorporated the elements of “mountain” and “water,” using rocks and ponds to emulate the natural world. Inner and outer walls with moon-shaped doorways and small windows in the shapes of vases; pavilions; covered walkways and bridges added interest and provided resting places from which to admire views of the garden. Chinese gardening reached its height in Suzhou during the Ming and Qing dynasties.There were over 280 private gardens then in Suzhou and landscaping became an art with established masters. There are 69 gardens in and around Suzhou that are still in good condition. In 1997, UNESCO added four of the private gardens of Suzhou to the World Heritage list, extending this in 2000 to include the historic section of the city and five other gardens in the area.

Islamic Architecture

The Chinese Islamic architecture or the Islamic architecture in China is a term used to indicates to the architectural heritage of the Muslims in China both of mainland or outer land of China since the earliest times to the present.

Mapping of Islam by province of China according to the latest Government Census in 2011; Muslims account for 0.45% of the total population.

Islam has been practiced in Chinese society for 1,400 years. Currently, Muslims are a minority group in China, representing between 0.45% to 1.8% of the total population according to the latest estimates. Though HuiMuslims are the most numerous group, the greatest concentration of Muslims is in Xinjiang, with a significant Uyghur population. Lesser but significant populations reside in the regions of Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai. Of China’s 55 officially recognized minority peoples, ten groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

There are many examples of Islamic architecture during Song and Liao Dynasties; the Niujie Mosque in Beijing is the oldest mosque in Beijing, China. It was first built in 996 during the Liao Dynasty and was reconstructed as well as enlarged under the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722) of the Qing Dynasty. and the Huaisheng Mosque in Guangzhou.

Catholicism Architecture

St. Ignatius Cathedral, or Xujiahui Cathedral, is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in China. It is located in the Xujiahui district. Originally built in 1906, it was the first Catholic church in Shanghai after the Opium Wars and it was once the highest building in Shanghai, before the 1920s. The cathedral is a church modeled after a Western architectural style. Its exterior shape is like a long cross, modeled after French medieval Gothic architecture. With red brick walls, white stone pillars, and a gray slate roof, the two bell towers in front of the church are 60 meters high (the spire is 31 meters high). These two towering structures are magnificent and solemn with a north-south confrontation.