Korea's Religious Places - 3.3 Incheon Dapdong Cathedral, Incheon
|Understanding Korea Series No.6|
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|2)* Yakhyeon Cathedral, Seoul||3)* Incheon Dapdong Cathedral, Incheon||4)* Jeonju Jeondong Cathedral, Jeonju|
Incheon Dapdong Cathedral (Incheon)
In the late nineteenth century, Incheon, then called Jemulpo, was the port of access to Seoul and, as such, it was also the location of another of the early Catholic cathedrals of Korea. Built in 1886, expanded in 1897, and then remodeled in 1933, the Dapdong Cathedral in the heart of Incheon is an important religious site in Korea.
Incheon was a bustling international port city. Ships from many nations visited and traded with Korea. Not far away, Ganghwado Island was a kind of fortress that offered protection for the Hangang River estuary and access to Seoul. Incheon saw French, Dutch, British, American, and other ships, and was therefore a logical place for the building of a major cathedral. The Dapdong Cathedral started with a smaller building as early as 1886; in 1890 they began to expand the building, but were interrupted by the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895. Finally, in 1897, they were able to complete the cathedral on a classic scale. The early architectural guidance and financing came from French missionaries, particularly the French priest Eugene Coste, who also oversaw the building of the Yakhyeon Cathedral and the Myeong-dong Cathedral. The building originally was in Gothic style, but it was remodeled in 1937 to a Romanesque style when the exterior was redone with brick walls.
The cathedral was damaged during the Korean War, but gradually restored. By 1959 they were able to restore the cathedral completely, including all the stained-glass windows.
The red brick is also seen inside the cathedral, which was built in the classic cross shape. There are granite pillars at corners and surrounding the entrances. There is a main entrance in the front and entrances on each side of the nave. The front is marked by a tall central steeple with smaller steeples on each side, which together make a clear statement—they point to heaven. Inside the compound is one of Korea’s convents.