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Travel Report: First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

April 2019. Wonderboy and I were strolling around Daegu’s historic district when we found ourselves gazing up at the soaring twin spires of a stunning church. Just one of many beautiful churches, as it turns out, in this underrated South Korean city.

This one was impossible to miss, perched as it is atop Cheongna Hill. Following our noses, we headed up a dramatic stone staircase in the hope that it would lead us to the church’s entrance.

Independent Movement Road Daegu.

Independent Movement Road, Daegu.

The staircase is actually one of Daegu’s most historical spots. Known locally as Independence Movement Road, this is where groups of students from across the city gathered to protest against Japanese rule on March the 8th, 1919. Today, national flags and archive photographs line the walls of the 90-step road.

We were about a quarter of the way up when we took a sharp left onto a gorgeous garden path. Sheltered by drooping branches, manicured hedges and fulsome flower beds, we followed the short trail up to the platform and the entrance doors to the church.

Beautiful church Daegu South Korea.

A handsome church.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

In what was fast becoming a recurring theme in Daegu, we found virtually no online info about the church. All we could really discover is that it was built by missionaries in 1897 at a time when Christianity was starting to take root in the region.

With no context to work with, we simply dropped onto a wooden bench opposite the entrance doors and peered up at its gothic exterior. The giant stained glass window depicts Jesus cradling a baby lamb in his arms, as other lambs look on.

Glass windows First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

Jesus and lambs.

Inside, a cavernous hallway features a number of striking paintings. The first thing we saw was this somewhat terrifying depiction of the crucifixion. Not sure about the heavy use of green.

Jesus Crucifixion painting Daegu South Korea.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

Elsewhere, on a staircase leading down to the church offices, we spotted  giant canvas of Jesus’ face. For me it was all quite unsettling, especially as we hadn’t encountered a single soul and the only sounds were the echoes of our own footsteps.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

The large wooden doors to the church itself were shut, which initially led us to believe the place was closed. With nobody around to enlighten us, we tried our luck and… lo and behold… the doors swung open and in we walked.

What To See & Do, Daegu.

Inside First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

Much to our surprise, the church seemed to be more of a concert venue than an operational house of worship. Sure, there were rows and rows of wooden pews. But everything else seemed geared towards live performance.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu South Korea.

A cheeky piano mirror selfie.

There were large speakers, amplifiers and microphone stands scattered across the stage. A giant TV screen dominated the back wall. We also found a black piano, set in front of the first row of pews. Judging by how well our exchanged whispers carried, I guessed this was a fantastic venue for a live performance.

First Presbyterian Church Daegu.

First Presbyterian Church of Daegu.

Finally, the sound of distant voices from somewhere behind the stage blew us back towards the hallway. With no idea if we’d been intruding, we decided to call time on our brief visit and head back out into the afternoon sunshine.

Despite poking around online, I couldn’t find anything about opening hours, or indeed services. In any case, it’s well worth a five minute detour when in the historic district, if only to see its stunning facade up close.

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For more on what to see and do in this hugely underrated city, check out my travel reports from Daegu.

Like this? Take a look at more My pieces from around South Korea.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • Mimi

    Beautiful photos, intriguing subject, and very well written. One tiny suggestion: you might want to say what country you’re in at the beginning of the post. A good read!

    October 18, 2020 - 1:43 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Mimi, thanks for reading, I’m glad you liked the article. Yeah, this was something of an oversight on this occasion. 99% of the time that’s clear. For a long period, the name of the country was always in the title, but I’ve had to scrap that as my SEO tools tell me this makes the title “too wide” for search engines. South Korea is mentioned in the categories right below the main title, but I guess it can be missed. Anyway, I fiddled around with the opening paragraph to fix it. Thanks for the heads up!

      October 18, 2020 - 3:36 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Very impressive structure. Hard to believe you only spent 5 minutes inside. I would have stayed longer and made them evict me. I would be interesting to know what a live performance/service was like.

    October 18, 2020 - 6:18 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    What a towering structure! I’m not the most-knowledgeable about architectural styles, but I take Daegu’s to have a sort of modern, neo-Gothic vibe to it. Kind of interesting to see such a similar style to the ones I’ve seen in Europe, but this time in Asia! Enjoying the snapshots of your travels in each post– keep them coming!

    October 19, 2020 - 1:53 am Reply

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