Myeondong Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception is the birthplace and the symbol of Roman Catholic Church Community in Korea. This is also a cathedral for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul, a certain church of a Latin Rite comprising of Seoul, another province in South Korea and the whole North Korea. It is said that this cathedral is one of most notable and earliest examples of Gothic Revival architecture that is found in Korea.
The first Roman Catholic community in Korea gathered in this area which was previously known as Myeong-Nae-Bang in 1784. Father Coste then began to plan for the construction of the cathedral in 1894. Finally, on May 29, 1898, the cathedral was consecrated with its patron known as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The relics of several martyrs who died during the persecutions in 1839 and 1866 were also moved from Yong-san seminary to the crypt in this Myeongdong Cathedral. Besides the martyrs, some of the famous people housed in this cathedral include Bishop Laurent Joseph Marie Imbert (1796 to 1839), Jacques Honor Chastan (1803 to 1839), Pourthie Jean Antoine Charles (1830 to 1866) and Peter Simon (1803 to 1839).
The original architecture of this cathedral was constructed with twenty types of red and grey bricks that were fired locally. The main building is 23 metres high and the steeple with the clock is able to rise up to 45 metres. This cathedral was first known as the Chong- Hyen Cathedral. During Liberation Day in 1945, this cathedral was renamed to Myeongdong and was designated as a National Historic Site no. 258 in November 22, 1977 after that.
Unlike most of the other Gothic type of buildings, this cathedral was built with bricks and this gives a characteristic atmosphere to the cathedral. In order for you to truly appreciate the beauty of this cathedral, you will have to visit the cathedral to view its stained glass windows and the tall ceilings that were designed with beautiful Gothic styles. One of the best time for you to visit is during the noon time when the pipe organ is being played. You do not need to purchase a ticket as admission is free. There is also parking facility available if you are driving there and there are facilities for the handicapped people including designated restrooms and wheelchair ramp. A garden within the cathedral vicinity also offers you a peaceful resting place after visiting this cathedral.
This cathedral is also packed with a lot of people and events during the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. To find out more about their mass schedule, visit Myeongdong Cathedral’s official website (http://www.mdsd.or.kr/english/parish.asp). The website is available in four different languages; Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese.
Nearby Places of Interest
Some of the places of interest nearby to Myeongdong Cathedral are Myeongdong main shopping street where you can shop till you drop, Myeongdong Nanta Theatre where you can watch the famous non-verbal comedy Cookin’ NANTA performance, Korea Postage Stamp Museum and Seoul Global Cultural Center.
There are a few nearby accommodations’ that you can consider to stay in when you are attending mass events in this Myeongdong Cathedral or simply visiting it. The list of accommodations’ are K-POP Residence Myeongdong Branch I, Tomo Residence, Myeongdong Guest House, Nana Residence and Click Hotel. Check out each of these accommodation’s and find out which one is most suitable for you.
Several restaurants can also be found nearby to the Myeongdong Cathedral in case you go hungry while visiting it. They are Bistro74, Raw Fish Restaurant known as Dado Hoetijp, Dduksim Hanu Myeongdong Branch, Small Happy in the Garden also known as Doul An’ Jaigun Hangbok and Myeongdong Direct Management Store known as Cheonan Yennal Hodu-gwaja which is famous for its hodu-gwaja, a sweet snack shaped like a walnut with red bean filling and either half or the whole walnut inside.
If you do have some time to spare while being at the Myeongdong area, this Myeongdong Cathedral is a place where you can have a peaceful rest by being away from all the noise and take a break from your shopping.