The missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, who came to these shores in the 19th century were often people of many talents. Among of the missionaries belonging to the Paris Foreign Missions Society, there were architects. Daegu, like Seoul and Jeonju, has a beautiful cathedral designed by a French missionary. This cathedral was designed by Father Achille Paul Robert, M.E.P.
Father Robert came to Korea when, as Robert Koehler points out in a post on Daegu’s historic architecture, that being a priest was technically illegal. He survived the last persecutions and spent the last thirty years of his priesthood serving in Daegu.
I was in Daegu wandering around the beautiful Jung-gu area in the late afternoon and evening. Usually, I’ve passed through Daegu on the way to someplace else. Now that I’m so much more closer to Daegu, I thought I’d want to spend some time getting to know that city. I really love what they’ve done to downtown Daegu. I must say that it is really refreshingly pleasant. As much as I love Korea, and I do, I have to admit that many Korean cities have, to be blunt, some pretty ugly buildings. I know that Korea was a very poor country at the time of the formation of the Republic of Korea and especially after the war. When Korea did develop, it did so with amazing speed. At the time, there were more of a concern with function over form and getting the buildings up quickly. Nowadays, aesthetic considerations are taken into account. Also, the cities are taking more care with their public spaces. The other thing that Daegu has going for it is quite a few wonderfully preserved old buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Here is the exterior of Gyesan Cathedral at night.
The large crucifix was erected in commemoration of the missions. The inscription, done in Chinese characters, reflects a time when Koreans used more hanja (漢字) than they do now.
I must say that the interior does not disappoint!
Pope John Paul II visited this cathedral back in 1984, when he made his first visit to the Republic of Korea.