Cizhong Catholic Church in Deqin County, Diqing

Why is Cizhong Catholic Church So Special?

Cizhong Catholic Church is a model which combines the architecture features of both western countries and China’s Tibet, Han and Bai ethnic groups. The church and its wing-room, gate, cellar and grape yard were well preserved by local government. It was listed as the key national cultural protection relics by the State Council in 2006. 

Where is Cizhong Catholic Church – Location

The Cizhong Catholic Church is located in Cizhong Village of Yanmen Township, 80 kilometers from the south of Deqin County in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. 

History and Culture

Cizhong Catholic Church was first constructed at Cigu Village in 1867 (the 6th year of the Tongzhi Reign in the late Qing Dynasty), and was torched to ashes in 1905 during the Movement of Expelling Western Religions; it was reconstructed from 1909 to 1921, employing a great deal of labor, quantities of materials and huge amounts of money. It is a model which combines the architecture features of both western countries and China’s Tibet, Han and Bai ethnic groups. Once the church was reconstructed, it became the major church of the Yunnan Parish; and a school and convent were built with it successively. Nowadays, its former houses and dormitories have been preserved and undergone renovations sponsored by the Government in 1989. It was listed as the key national cultural protection relics by the State Council in 2006.

How to Get There?

At the bus station of Deqin County, there are coaches running to Cizhong Church. Or tourists can rent a car to from Deqin or Feilaisi.

Architectural Style

Cizhong Church complex is set on the mountainside with lush vegetation and companied by local residences, thus presenting peculiar views of culture and nature. The church complex is centering on the church while compactly fitted with gate, front and back yards, garden of flowers and vegetables, cellar, and vineyard etc, all of which contribute much to its grandiosity. Facing eastwards, Cizhong Catholic church is mainly constructed with brick and stone structures of French (Gothic) style; and its profile goes on a cross basis. At the entrance is a girdle-free stony staircase, 1.3 meters high; the arched porch is made of slab stones and is 6 meters long and 3 meters wide; above the porch is a three-storey belfry (watchtower), 20 meters high. The upper part of the belfry is a pavilion style with wooden pinnacles, employing 4 inner pillars and 12 outer pillars to support the ridge beams; and banisters are further built between the inner and outer pillars. When being in the watchtower, one gets the chance to have a bird-eye view of Cizhong Village and enjoy as well the sceneries in the mountains around.

The gate is composed of a couple of plank doors both of which are 2.72 meters high and 0.74 meter wide. The nave (or the chapel) is 22 meters long and 12.7 meters wide; there are 6 stone columns in two rows supporting the ridge; on the two sides of the navel, a vestry and bathroom are set respectively. The roof of the church is made from glazed tiles, so this grand building looks extremely seductive under the sunshine.

Inside, the church is quite austere, but for its ceiling which is painted in different shades of blue and decorated with a mixture of floral and Taoist motifs. Naive paintings showing the different stages of the Way of the Cross hang from the walls with Chinese characters underneath, telling the story. The church benches, which are raised no more than 20 centimetres from the floor, are uncomfortably low for Westerners, unused to squatting, and the sight of the prayer books in Chinese lining them seems incongruous to our eyes.

Best Time to Go

The Feast of the Assumption in August and the Christmas in December are the most lively times for the Cizhong Church. Villagers, whether religious or not, flock to the church to participate in the activities. Every year in the mid-September, the villagers start to make wine. If you like, you can taste the new wine at this time. If you come on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you will also experience mass. 

Accommodate at Cizhong Catholic Church

In the past, the church was able to accommodate tourists, but due to the poor living conditions, it is cannot provide commodation for tourists. So tourists can choose the hostels and inns around the church in Cizhong Village or back to Deqin for overnight.

Attractions Nearby

Meili Snow Mountain
Meili Snow Mountain is one of the most sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. In the 1930s, they were praised by American scholars as the most beautiful mountains in the world. Meili Snow Mountain boasts numerous snow-clad ridges and peaks, thirteen of which are more than 6,000 meters above the sea level. The highest peak Kawagebo, which rises to 6,740 metres, has never been summited.

Feilaisi Monastery, Deqin
Feilai temple, the best place to watch goden peaks of Meili mountain at sunrise. So if u plan to watch sunrise, it’s absolutely a good idea to live at Feilai temple the night before. But actually it is unusual to see the goden peaks. The peaks of the mountains are often surrounded with clouds due to the high altitude they are. And this makes more interestings for Meili. There’s a kind of saying that, if any Japanese appears in this area then people can’t see the golden peaks that day. This is because Japanese are not welcomed by Tibetan people. Yes, they hate Japan and Japanese, just like people in notheast of China.

Useful Travel Tips

►The church has a large vineyard and the villagers have their own wine. Tourists can have a taste if interested.

► There is no ticket for the church, but you have to pay RMB 10 to get to the top of the building.

Tours including Cizhong Catholic Church

15 Days Three Parallel Rivers Overland Adventure with Dulongjiang River Valley and Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking

9 Days Shangri-La Circle Tour and Three Parallel Rivers Adventure (Depart from Lijiang)

13 Days Three Parallel Rivers Circle Adventure with Tiger Leaping Gorge and Yubeng Village Hiking Tour