There are a few places to worship in English in Shanghai. Remember to bring along your passport (many only allow foreign passport holders to attend due to constraints on Chinese nationals) and ask the concierge of your hotel to confirm service times as they are subject to change.
- Denomination: Catholic
- Chinese name: Junwangtang, 君王唐
- Address: 270 Chongqing Road (重庆路270号)
- Telephone: 021 6467 8282
- English Services: Saturdays 5pm, Sundays 10:30am
- Denomination: Ecumenical
- Chinese name: Guoji Libaitang, 国际礼拜堂
- Address: 53 Hengshan Road (ºâÉ½Â·53ºÅ)
- Telephone: 021 6437 6576
- English Services: Sunday 4pm
- Denomination: Catholic
- Chinese name: Xujiahui Tianzhu Jiaotang, 徐家汇天主教堂
- Address: 158 Puxi Road (浦西路158号)
- Telephone: 021 6469 0930
- English Services: Confirm for English Services
Temples, Mosques & Churches
Not known for its temples, Shanghai’s most popular Buddhist shrine with visitors is the Jade Buddha Temple (Yufo Si). The Longhua Temple is also on the route of some tourists; its pagoda is the most interesting one in Shanghai. Shanghai also has several active Christian churches and an Islamic mosque where foreign visitors may worship or visit. But what really sets religious Shanghai apart, at least in China, is its Jewish legacy, most powerfully evoked by the reopening of the Ohel Moshe Synagogue as a museum and study center.
Mosques & Churches
In addition to the two cathedrals listed here, other major Catholic churches include Boduolu Tang (St. Peter’s Church), Chongqing Nan Lu 270, Luwan (tel. 021/6467-0198), originally built in 1933 but rebuilt in 1995, and which now holds services in English at 5pm Saturday and 10:30am Sunday; Sheng Ruose Tang (St. Joseph’s Church), built in 1860 at Sichuan Nan Lu 36, Huangpu (tel. 021/6328-0293 or 021/6336-5537); and Junwang Tianzhu Tang (Christ the King Catholic Church), also called the Good Shepherd Church, Julu Lu 361, Jing An (tel. 021/6217-4608).
Other active Protestant places of worship that open their doors to foreign worshippers include Huai’en Tang (Shanghai Grace Church), opened in 1910 at Shanxi Bei Lu 375, Jing An (tel. 021/6253-9394); Jingling Tang (Youag John Allen Memorial Church), built in 1923 at Kunshan Lu 135, east from Sichuan Bei Lu, Hongkou (tel. 021/6324-3021 or 021/5539-1720), the place where Chiang Kai-shek wed Soong Mei-ling; and Zhusheng Tang (All Saints Church), Fuxing Zhong Lu 425 at Danshui Lu (tel. 021/6385-0906), a lively church in the French Concession that recently began holding services again.
For the locations of additional cathedrals, churches, mosques, and places of worship and the times of services, inquire at your hotel.
She Shan Cathedral — For those who can’t get enough of Shanghai’s European-style churches, one of the best is located in Songjiang County, a 40-minute trip from Shanghai. Situated on the western peak of She Shan (She Mountain), She Shan Cathedral (She Shan Tang) was originally built by the Jesuits in 1866 as the Holy Mother Cathedral, and rebuilt between 1925 and 1935 as the Basilica of Notre Dame. Laid out in the shape of a cross, this majestic brick structure has a 38m-tall (125-ft.) bell tower on top of which stands a replacement bronze Madonna and Child statue (the original was destroyed in the Cultural Revolution). Catholic pilgrims from neighboring areas flock here on Sundays, holy days, and especially during the month of May (in 1874, Pope Pius IX declared a full amnesty to any Catholic who made the pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine at Sheshan during May), many of them making the trek up the hill via the south gate. Along the way are a number of shrines and grottoes. The church (tel. 021/5765-1521; 8am-4pm) holds Mass Monday through Saturday at 7am (6:30am in summer) and at 8am on Sunday. Behind the church is an astronomical observatory (tel. 021/5765-3423; 7:30am-5pm), founded in 1900 by the French Catholic Mission. The eastern half of She Shan consists mostly of a Forest Park, various recreational theme parks, and a tourist resort with the luxurious Le Meridien She Shan hotel (Linyin Xin Lu 1288, tel. 021/5779-9999). To reach She Shan, take Metro Line 9 to the Sheshan or the Dongjing stop (about 40 min. from downtown Shanghai); from there you can take a taxi to the mountain (about ¥15/$2.15/£1.10). Public bus nos. 90 and 91 (from outside the subway station) ply the same route but take longer.
As China’s most international city, Shanghai experienced several waves of Jewish immigration, each leaving its mark. The first to arrive, in the late 1840s, were the Sephardic Jews. Businessmen who made their fortunes in opium and property, they built large estates and as many as seven synagogues, and were responsible for some of Shanghai’s finest architecture. The Sassoons, who emigrated from Baghdad in the mid-19th century, were the first Jewish family to make a fortune in Shanghai, and both the Peace Hotel on the Bund and the villa estate next to the zoo (now the Cypress Hotel) were their creations. Silas Hardoon was a later Jewish real estate baron whose great estate was razed to make way for the Sino-Soviet Shanghai Exhibition Center on Yan’an Xi Lu (south of the Portman Hotel). Meanwhile, the legacy of the Kadoories’, another wealthy Jewish family from Baghdad, is the stunning “Marble House” on Yan’an Xi Lu, today the city’s most popular and impressive Children’s Palace.
The second wave of Jewish emigrants comprised Russian Jews fleeing the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the 20th century. They were followed in the 1930s by a third wave of European Jews who were fleeing Hitler, and who landed here only because Shanghai was the only city in the world at that time willing to accept these “stateless refugees.” Just before World War II, the numbers of Jews in Shanghai topped 30,000. In February 1943, to appease the Germans who wanted the Japanese to implement the Final Solution in Shanghai, the occupying force of the Japanese army forced the “stateless Jews” into a “Designated Area” in Hongkou District (north of the Bund), marked by today’s Zhoujiazui Lu in the north, Huimin Lu in the south, Tongbei Lu in the east, and Gongping Lu in the west. Tens of thousands of Jews lived cheek by jowl in this “ghetto,” where the local synagogue became the center of their material and spiritual lives until the end of the war.
Travelers interested in the Jews in Shanghai can still visit that center, the Ohel Moshe Synagogue (Moxi Huitang), Changyang Lu 62, Hongkou (tel. 021/6512-6669). Built in 1927 by the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Shanghai, it no longer serves as a synagogue, but as the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum (Youtai Nanmin Zai Shanghai Jinianguan) devoted to the history of the Jews in Shanghai. Recently renovated, the museum now has an annex in the back that features an exhibition of Jewish life in Shanghai from 1933 to 1945. Visitors are welcome on weekdays from 9am to 5pm. Tickets cost ¥50 ($7.15/£3.60).
The best way to visit this synagogue, Huoshan Park (Huoshan Gongyuan), where there is a memorial to Jewish refugees, the Marble Hall, and the nongtang (lane) row houses of Hongkou that formed Shanghai’s “Little Vienna,” is on the wonderful “Tour of Jewish Shanghai” conducted by appointment with Dvir Bar-Gal (tel. 0130/0214-6702; www.shanghai-jews.com).
The tour will also pass by Ohel Rachel Synagogue (Laxier Youtai Jiaotang) at Shanxi Bei Lu 500, behind the Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel; now home to the Shanghai Education Commission. It was built in 1920 by Jacob Sassoon in memory of his wife Rachel, but except for the occasional VIP visitor (namely Hillary Clinton in 1998), the synagogue, now considered one of the world’s 100 most endangered monuments, is usually closed to the public.
Travelers interested in learning more about the Jewish community in Shanghai, attending Shabbat dinners, or participating in religious services should contact the Shanghai Jewish Center, Hongqiao Lu 1720, Shang-Mira Garden Villa no. 2 (tel. 021/6278-0225; fax 021/6278-0223; www.chinajewish.org).
Because The Chinese Communist Party does not allow religions, religions such as Falun Gong, Tibetan monks are punished in China. Churches such as Vatican Catholics are NOT allowed in China.
Because The Chinese Communist Party very much want foreigners to come and make business and bring money to China the CCP allows churches for foreigners only, not Chinese person is allowed.
Underground churches not monitored by The Chinese Communist Party informants are to be punished severely and eliminated. Because The Chinese Communist Party has zero tolerance policy on free practice of religion.
I live in Shanghai and have seen 4 Christian churches personally, but am sure there are many more. The most famous Christian church in Shanghai is the magnificent She Shan Basilica in Songjiang District. There is also a lovely church off People’s Square that is well known for its charming Christmas celebrations. I have also seen churches in Shanghai’s Putuo and Pudong Districts.
China is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country. Over half of China’s 1.3 billion people have some level of interest in Buddhism. There are thousands of active Buddhist temples and shrines throughout the nation. Buddhist rituals permeate everyday life throughout the nation. By comparison, Christianity is a small religion here.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed under Chinese law. All persons in China are free to believe or not believe in religion.
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