Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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Luce Memorial Chapel, Taichung

6/29/2011 Taiwan Explorer

The Luce Memorial Chapel (路思義教堂) in Taichung is one of the most beautiful places of worship I have ever seen and experienced. I've been to many churches and temples before, but I've never felt so welcome and so relaxed like in this amazing structure. Those who read my blog know, that I don't particularly like Taichung City, but seeing this building slightly changed my perception for the better, as I am a big architecture buff. The church is located at the Tunghai University (東海大學), amid a very beautiful park. I was very surprised, when I've read, that the church dates back to 1963, because it looked like it was built just recently. The design is timeless.

What impressed me most was how the roof literally connects the sky with the ground, figuratively connecting heaven and earth, God and his worshipers. And not only that, the roof is at the same time the wall, maybe the symbol of God as the protector? There are so many things one can think about, when you sit near this beautiful chapel and admire its design and the location. The park is beautiful as well. But you need to go inside to experience something even even more overwhelming.

The Luce Memorial Chapel from the outside.

The chapel is attracting a lot of passionate Taiwanese photographers.

The reflection of the afternoon sun.

The cross on top of the roof is very modest.

And then we went inside. The interior is very simple, but genius. You have the feeling, that the chapel will collapse any time, but some higher power is keeping it intact. There was a group of Christians singing songs, that were so beautiful, that even an atheist like me was moved by them. My wife and I sat there on the bench, drank water and listened. Outside was very hot and humid, inside it felt peaceful and soothing. This was probably the first time, that I really felt something positive connected with the Church, because in my home country that institution doesn't have a good reputation. But this experience was like something completely different, I saw the cross and I thought of Christianity, but without all the cultural and historical baggage attached to it. Seeing that sun coming inside the church and completely outshining the altar and the performance of the choir, I felt very small and humbled in that moment. It was a surreal experience, but one that I truly enjoyed.

The sun as the part of the chapel's interior design.

The lonesome ROC flag. It felt very small in that corner.

I think the best way to let you experience a glimpse of this chapel's magical atmosphere is the video below, which I took with my mobile device. The quality is not the best, but at least you will get an idea, what you can see and experience in this wonderful piece of modern architecture.

If you want to visit the chapel, you will find it on this map. The Tunghai University campus is located outside the city proper, best is you take a cab. Once you arrive at the campus, you will need to walk for about 15 minutes, but it's truly worth it, as the area is very green, with trees, bushes and a small creek. There are maps, you won't get lost. I don't think Taichung has a lot to offer to a spoiled European tourist like me, but this one is an exception and definitely won't leave you unimpressed.
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