Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ruins of St. Paul

Ruins of St. Paul
also known as Sam Ba Sing Tzik
Macau, China

The old St. Paul's College and Cathedral built in Macau, China was an attempt to bring Baroque architecture and Catholicism to Asia. The facade shows forms that are typical of the Baroque style that can also be found in Il Gesu. A mixture of Corinthian and Ionic capitals top the large columns on each level. The columns diminish in size and height as the levels get higher to almost give a forced perspective. Niches and what I imagine would be an aedicula are located on the second level with three entrances on the first. There are deep cornices that line the tops of the columns and a volute relief that flanks the sides of the third story. A broken pediment sits atop the entire structure. Despite being obviously Baroque, the facade displays some Asian elements as well; stone dragons are placed on either side of the third and fourth tiers and some Chinese inscriptions. The dragons are placed as a guardian for protection, which obviously didn't work. Nevertheless, the facade is considered a perfect fusion of eastern and western cultures. 

In 1835, St. Paul's College and Cathedral became the Ruins of St. Paul after a fire broke out in the church during a typhoon. Before it had been in shambles, the church had actually been considered the largest and most grand in all of Asia even though no attempts had been made to restore it after the natural disaster. Its leftover facade sits atop a hill where you have to ascend 66 steps to reach the iconic shell. It is buttressed with concrete and steel to ensure its durability and is now considered a historic landmark for the city of Macau.  


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