The cream-colored Church of Santa Cruz is about the only clue that this part of Bangkok was once the area where Portuguese merchants and missionaries once lived in the early years of Bangkok.

The Portuguese have been allies with Thailand sine 1516, when they began supplying the country with arms and ammunitions to help ward off Burmese aggression. After the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767, and with it the Catholic church there, King Taksin granted permission for them to build another one in the new capital Thonburi, a gift in recognition of their vital services. Nestled on the banks of the Chao Phraya, the idiosyncratic result is this church in the Kudi Jeen area.

Originally made from wood, it fell into disrepair until a Cardinal had it rebuilt in 1835 and renamed it Santa Cruz Church. By 1913, however, the same had happened. King Rama VI again ordered its restoration, but this time enlisted the help of two renowned Italian architects, Annibale Rigotti and Mario Tamagno. Found tucked inside a small cloister rimmed by a wrought iron fence, the result, a cream-toned church with reddish dome and a graceful Italian-style features, is still here today. The rectangular belfry is decorated with stucco and contains dozens of bells, still chimed today on auspicious occasions. There are 14 sculptures depicting scenes from Jesus' life, and the walls are decorated with stained glass biblical images.


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