The fortified church of Our Lady of the Rosary

This is the fourth post of my Shanxi civilian castles (山西民间古堡) series. So far, I already took you to the deserted stone fortress of Xiangyu (相峪堡), within the lost walls of Douzhuang (窦庄) castle and more recently into the imperial manor of Kangxi in Huangcheng Xiangfu (皇城相府).

When travelling through China, I take the train and the bus as much as possible, but once in a while I end up hiring a driver for the day. Hiring a driver is more expensive, but it is definitely a faster and more convenient way (I can stop anytime, anywhere) and I can enjoy the insights of a local. Thanks to driver Zhang, I was able to visit places that are off-radar to most people.

Front view of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Daqi village, Shanxi

Front view of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Daqi village, Shanxi

The fortified church of Our Lady of the Rosary

Driver Zhang was a native of Daqi (大箕), a small village in Zezhou county (泽州县), just south of the town of Jincheng (晋城) which was my base to visit the castles of the Qinhe River (沁河) basin where most civilian castles of south Shanxi are concentrated.

He decided to drive by his hometown because he had not been there in a while (he moved to the city with his family more than a decade ago) and because there was another castle-like old structure to show to that foreigner who like ancient Chinese architecture. This is how we ended up pulling in front of the fortified church of Our Lady of the Rosary (玫瑰圣母天主教堂).

We entered the small fortress through the only entrance : a narrow cobble-stone lane at the end of which the church of Our Lady of the Rosary stands, almost out of place and out of time, in front of little square. On the left-hand side, we find living quarters home to the priest and a few other people apparently. The entire structure is surrounded by a stone wall which, I assume, predates the construction of the church and rests on a giant rocky hill.

Front view of the church inside the fortress

Front view of the church inside the fortress with the living quarters on the left

Historical background

The place was pretty much deserted, and I was not able to gather much information about how this place came to be. Even driver Zhang scratching his head with a smile admitted that he did not know much about this place steeped in history.

Like most protected historical structures in China, there is a short introduction on an aluminium plate right by the entrance.

During the Yihetuan Movement (义和团运动), an uprising that took place at the turn of the 20th century and which opposed imperialism and activities associated with foreign missionaries, two Dutch priests found refuge in this fortress in 1900. They prayed the virgin Mary and asked for her protection.

Still alive in 1902 when the movement also known as the Boxer rebellion was finally over, they erected this church in memory of Our Lady of the Rosary (玫瑰圣母).

Rear view of the church

Rear view of the church

The best view

Although the entrance and this fortified compound where the church is located are really impressive, I really enjoyed the lateral and rear view of the church of our Lady of the Rosary that we get from outside.

From the back, we could see the different layers of the wall and I definitely had the impression of that the structure is much older than the construction of the church itself.

From the side, the view is equally impressive. Like contemporary bell towers, three high-voltage transmission towers surrounded the structure. Although I wished they did not exist, they were a reminder that the rural landscape is changing fast. The 21st century has indeed caught up with the vicissitudes of China’s long history.

Our Lady of the Rosary, side view

Our Lady of the Rosary, side view

There are 7 comments

  1. jjvam

    Very interesting this publication!. It seems incredible to see how well preserved it is despite the antiquity of its structure. It impresses me even more to know that there are so ancient churches and bearing the name of the Virgin Mary in a country like China. It makes me think that she is Mother of God and ours, is always with us everywhere. Congratulations for the post!!

    1. Gaetan

      Thank you! Well, there were a lot of missionaries in China in the 18th and 19th century who went pretty much everywhere in China, even in the most remote parts of the country.

      1. jjvam

        You’re welcome !. Amazing! Continuing with such good publications because it helps to know the cultural wealth of this world do not perceive. Thank you!

  2. Chasing Sunsets

    Hey! Most of the travel writers simply write about what they see! I like the fact that you have mentioned a lot about the place’ history as well which gives the readers a feeling of having been there:)
    Thank you!

    1. Gaetan

      Thank your for your comment and thank you for reading!
      When I go somewhere, I have this need to find out about history, otherwise the place is meaningless. History adds another dimension … it also allows for time travel in my mind 🙂

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