Daegu is famed throughout Korea for being a conservative and religious city, a reputation that dates back to the nineteenth century invasion by catholic and protestant missionaries from all over Europe. Take a stroll through the historical district and it won’t be long before you stumble upon a church or two, or three. Ambling curiously through Daegu’s oldest streets, Wonderboy and I had already spent some time in the First Presbyterian Church of Daegu before we arrived at the pretty Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral. I suppose it isn’t very sexy to keep blogging about churches, but what can I do when I continually come across such handsome buildings?
Built in 1903, Our Lady of Lourdes is also known as Gyesan Catholic Church, or simply The Cathedral of Daegu. Just pick the one you like, I won’t hold it against you. It’s every bit as beautiful and solemn inside as you’d expect, so much so that Wonderboy found himself dropping onto one of the wooden pews to deliver a prayer for his late father.
Leaving Wonderboy to his peaceful solitude, I contented myself with exploring the cathedral’s little nooks and crannies and admiring the plentiful art.
Outside the church, there’s a lovely little garden with gnarly old trees, flowerbeds, and benches. A lone statue stands in tribute to Father Paul Robert Achille, a French missionary who designed the cathedral. Achille arrived in Daegu back when being a priest was actually illegal (!) and, having survived a fierce period of persecution, eventually went on to serve Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral for almost thirty years.
Also in the cathedral garden, look out for this cool photo board that captures Daegu locals in feverish excitement during a visit by none other than Pope John Paul II in 1984. I mean seriously, what a rock star!
Walk round to the back of Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral for a very cool photo op that includes the towering form of First Presbyterian Church of Daegu in the background.
Finally, it’d be wasteful not to round off your visit to Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral with a church-side drink at Coffee Myungga. It was impossibly sunny that day, so much so that the old joint seemed to be melting away behind me as I enjoyed my… interesting… Sesame Seed Latte. Yes, there were actual sesame seeds inside!
Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, or whatever else you want to call it, is free to enter and open daily from 10:00-18:00.