The Holy Rosary Cathedral in Kaohsiung is a real head-turner. A single glimpse and you are transported into 19th Century Europe. It was constructed in 1860 and rebuilt in 1928, modeled after both Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles, which clearly show today to the delight of tourists, historians and architectural enthusiasts. It is just one of the many century-old structures that make the city of Kaohsiung very inviting.
The Holy Rosary Cathedral is located in the southern part of Kaohsiung on Wu-fu 3rd Road, opposite Shih-chung 1st Road and near the famous Love River. It is the oldest Catholic church in Taiwan. On May 18, 1859, two Dominican priests, Fr. Fernando Sainz (Kuo Te-kang) and Fr. Angel Boforull (Hung Pao-lu), arrived at the port of Takao (Kaohsiung’s ancient name) and began spreading the Catholic faith. On December of the same year, they purchased a low-lying ground near the Love River, which was then more majestic and pristine. And it was on this piece of land where they built the first Mission House in Taiwan, made completely from mud and straw. After a year, the St. Mary’s Church was built on the site, approved and protected by the Chinese Emperor. This was the humble beginning of this majestic cathedral.
In 1928, St. Mary’s Church was rebuilt into the cathedral that it is now, having followed the architectural plan of Fr. Elias Fernandez, who was then the parish priest. During the Japanese Occupation, the Catholic population in the region grew and the church was renamed Holy Rosary Cathedral. Its full construction was made possible using the donations of the church’s faithful devotees. Today, it is a fully functioning Catholic church and is the seat of the Archbishop of Taiwan, as it is a breathtaking tourist attraction and one of the most recognizable in Kaohsiung. Regular masses are celebrated here every day and Sundays at 10:30 a.m., and one that is conducted in English every 11:00 a.m. It comes to life every Christmas Eve as many people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, come for the annual Christmas Eve celebrations that last for the entire evening until midnight.
The city of Kaohsiung is proud to be the seat of Catholicism in Taiwan as it is also the home of the oldest Buddhist temple, the TianHou Temple located in the island-district of Cijin. Other ancient structures in the city are the ChiHou Fort, ChiHou Lighthouse, and the Old City Wall. There are also modern-day wonders to boast of, such as the Tuntex Sky Tower (second tallest building in Taiwan), Kaohsiung National Stadium (largest sports stadium in Taiwan) and The Dome of Light (the largest public glass art masterpiece of its kind), as well as numerous markets, parks, and museums. Kaohsiung is located in southwestern Taiwan, facing the Taiwan Strait.
Although Kaohsiung is much more famous for its high-tech port and harbor, it is also considered a tourist hub. The Holy Rosary Cathedral flanked by the romantic Love River and surrounded by parks and other tourism facilities truly make an unforgettable travel experience.