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Sacred Heart Cathedral, also called the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is one of the architectural highlights in Guangzhou and it is one of the four full-stone Gothic cathedrals in the world, regarded as the “Notre-Dame of East Asia”.
This Catholic cathedral was founded in the 1800s by the emperor of France and was built by Chinese craftsmen. The stained glass windows, high arches and spires, and the spacious and high inner sanctuary make the building beautiful and solemn.
The cathedral was built with big granite blocks that were shipped in from Hong Kong. This is why the cathedral is called the "Stone House" (石室). In the 19th century, local people had never seen a building built like this before.
Seen from above, the whole cathedral looks like a crucifix. The main structure of the cathedral is in three stories: at the bottom there are three large arched doors, the next story has rose windows and colorful windows, and at the top are two towers.
Walk into the nave to see 10 giant stone pillars supporting the sharp arch.
The facade of the cathedral is a pair of stone towers with spires, symbolizing the ascent to heaven and the conversion of souls to God.
The west tower is a clock tower with four large clocks, and the east tower serves as a bell tower — it has gigantic bronze bells that were shipped from France in the 19th century.
In 1863, two foundation stones were blessed in the foundation ceremony, then 1 kilogram of mud taken from Rome and a stone taken from Jerusalem were buried under the two foundation stones.
Today, you can find the stone with the words “Jerusalem 1863” engraved on it in the east corner of the nave, and the stone with “Roma 1863” engraved on it in the west corner.
Although they were once ruined in times of warfare and other unstable periods, the colorful glass windows of Sacred Heart Cathedral have now been restored to their former glory.
The front, east, and west sides of the cathedral have rose windows that are 7 meters in diameter. They have mosaic patterns of dark red, dark blue, violet, and yellow glass.
Other colorful windows display images of over 60 famous Bible stories, such as the birth of Jesus, the christening of Jesus, and the Last Supper.
The construction director of Sacred Heart Cathedral was a stonemason from Guangzhou, so some Chinese elements have been merged with the Gothic architecture. All of these elements make the cathedral even more special.
The builders used a special mixture made from glutinous rice as an agglutinant, which is more stable than cement. Local bricks with better waterproof qualities were used for the floor. The water outlet on the roof is in the shape of a Chinese lion and the doors were carved using local technology.
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