Churches in Singapore with European vibes
Whether you’re a person of faith or not, we can all agree that places of worship can be quite awe-inspiring. Oftentimes, these grand buildings feature architecture of European descent. The same can be said for certain churches in Singapore, possibly thanks to our colonial past.
Although not quite Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, we think these churches come pretty close with their sprawling arches and towering spires. Head down to these churches in Singapore to grace the feed with architectural nous.
Table of Contents
- Churches in Singapore with European vibes
- 1. Church of St. Alphonsus – Gothic architecture
- 2. Armenian Church – Singapore’s oldest church
- 3. Blessed Sacrament Church – Origami-like architecture
- 4. St. Joseph’s Church – Built in the shape of a cross
- 5. St Andrew’s Cathedral – Singapore’s largest cathedral
- 6. Church of St Teresa – Romano-Byzantine architecture
- 7. Cathedral of the Good Shepherd – SG’s oldest Roman-Catholic church
- 8. Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Iconic statue
- 9. Church of the Sacred Heart – French Baroque style
- Bonus: CHIJMES – Convent turned popular wedding venue
1. Church of St. Alphonsus – Gothic architecture
Image credit: @novenachurch via Instagram
Complete makeovers and overhauling of certain aspects of everyday life sometimes do not bode well at all. For the Church of St Alphonsus, however, its reopening back in 2017 after a 33-month restoration breathed new life into the building.
Also known as the Novena Church, the church was unveiled with a new Gothic–style architecture. It features lofty arches and columns, as well as a dome outfitted with 24 beautiful large stained glass windows.
Image credit: @rapraprn via Instagram
In a chicken and egg, which one came first fashion, the church did not gain its colloquial name from the area it was built in back in 1950. Instead, it refers to the Novena prayer devotion, which then lent its name to the surrounding area.
For those who want to learn a little more about Redemptorists – which is the congregation that the church houses – take a guided tour of the Redemptorist Heritage Centre located within the church grounds. Here, sacred relics, liturgical items, and related memorabilia are displayed for all to see.
Address: 300 Thomson Road, Singapore 307653
Opening hours (office): Mon-Fri 9am-8pm | Sat 7.30am-7pm | Sun 8.30am-1pm, 4.30pm-7pm
Contact: 6255 2133 | Novena Church website
2. Armenian Church – Singapore’s oldest church
Image credit: @armenian.church.sg via Instagram
They say old is gold, and that cannot be any more true when it comes to The Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. It stands as Singapore’s oldest church, having been built in 1835.
If you’ve been to Armenia, then the structure of this church might look familiar to you. The broad floor plan and narrow spire are said to be inspired by the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The major difference? The one in Singapore is done up in a British Neoclassical style characterised by its steely Doric columns.
Fun fact: The columns were strong enough to withstand the weathering of bombs during WW2 – even the pews of the church were left untouched.
Image credit: Armenian Church Singapore
Now, the church no longer holds weekly services, but you can still attend liturgies on the first Saturday evening and Sunday morning of the month.
If you just want to tour the church, you can do so at the neighbouring Singapore Armenian Heritage Centre. The gallery contains rare artefacts from various community archives in Singapore. Then, head out to the memorial gardens, which features the graves of significant Armenians in Singapore such as Agnes Joaquim, who bred and hybridised Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda “Miss Joaquim”.
Address: 60 Hill Street, Singapore 179366
Opening hours: 10am-6pm, Daily
Contact: 6334 0141 | Armenian Church Singapore website
3. Blessed Sacrament Church – Origami-like architecture
Image credit: Blessed Sacrament Church
The Blessed Sacrament Church definitely tops this list as the church with the most unique and standout structure. Its distinctive blue roof is modelled after tentages – a symbolic nod to the “tent of meeting” between Moses and God as recorded in the bible.
Image credit: Catholic.sg
Another piece of religious symbolism is the cruciform shape of the sanctuary, whose 4 points meet and let natural light in through glass windows. Because of such design innovations, the church was granted conservation status in 2005.
Till date, the church continues to be diverse and inclusive with its outreach; with mass and other services conducted in a myriad of languages including English, Mandarin, Tamil, Bahasa Indonesia, and Tagalog.
Note: The main church building is currently undergoing renovations, but Mass is still taking place at a temporary space within the church grounds, the Damien Hall.
Address: 1 Commonwealth Drive, Singapore 149603
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8.30am-6.30pm | Sat 8.30am-7.30pm | Sun 7.30am-5.30pm
Contact: 6474 0582 | Blessed Sacrament Church website
4. St. Joseph’s Church – Built in the shape of a cross
Image credit: @mim_seo_. via Instagram
Another church given second wind recently is St Joseph’s Church, whose doors were reopened only last year after undergoing a 5 year-long restoration project. It has its roots with the Portuguese Mission, who built it 1853 as a place of worship for Portuguese and Eurasian Catholics in Singapore – as such, it’s dubbed the “Eurasian church”.
Image credit: @curlydimple via Instagram
The church was built in a neo-Gothic style and in the shape of a Latin cross, with its central belfry tower flanked by 2 smaller towers. It also houses one of the country’s largest collections of religious stained glass windows.
Because of its Portuguese ties, religious celebrations of Portuguese culture are observed here. These include the annual Good Friday, as well as devotions to Our Lady of Fatima – who has a dedicated shrine within the church – on the 13th day of each month.
Address: 143 Victoria Street, Singapore 188020
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7.30pm | Sat-Sun 9am-7pm
Contact: 6338 3167 | St. Joseph’s Church website
5. St Andrew’s Cathedral – Singapore’s largest cathedral
The church bears resemblance to the famed Salisbury Cathedral in England with its exquisite spires.
Image credit: @photosbyrosella via Instagram
There’s no missing this imposing construction – St Andrew’s Cathedral’s claim to fame is its magnitude as it is Singapore’s largest and oldest Anglican serving cathedral. The building we see now adopted a neo-Gothic architectural style when it was built in 1856, but the original church, which had to be demolished in 1855 after being struck by lightning twice, sported neoclassical architecture with big columns and blank white walls.
The cathedral standing today is furnished with 3 stained glass windows that are dedicated to influential figures in the nation’s colonial history.
Image credit: @didoticious via Instagram
Address: 11 St Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178959
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 9am-5pm | Sat 9am-6.30pm | Sun 7am-5.30pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 6337 6104 | St. Andrew’s Cathedral website
6. Church of St Teresa – Romano-Byzantine architecture
The Church of St Teresa sits undisturbed, perched atop a small hill in Bukit Purmei. The Roman Catholic church was built in the early 20th century and became the spiritual home of Catholics of the Hokkien community, as there were no churches that conducted Hokkien sermons then.
The church’s design took inspiration from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre, and shares the same Romano-Byzantine architecture as its Parisian counterpart. In fact, it’s the only building in Singapore to feature this architectural style.
But that’s not the only French element of the church – there are 5 bronze bells that come from the Cornille-Harvard Bell Foundry in Normandy, each cast in a different size and tuned in a unique tone to produce a harmonious melody when struck.
Address: 510 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore 099446
Opening hours (office): Mon-Fri 9am-5pm (Closed on Saturdays & Sundays)
Contact: 6271 1184 | Church of St. Teresa website
7. Cathedral of the Good Shepherd – SG’s oldest Roman-Catholic church
Image credit: @albertchuyingteo via Instagram
The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd bears the title of Singapore’s oldest Roman-Catholic church, being built in 1847. The church sports a Renaissance style which places a heavy emphasis on geometry, symmetry, and regularity of the building. This is reflected by the cathedral’s huge pillars supporting the portico, providing a picture-perfect frame for your snaps.
Image credit: @chrothan via Instagram
In 2016, a time capsule dating back to 1843 was found beneath the cathedral’s foundation stone. Buried by French Catholic missionary priests, it contained a prayer booklet, foreign coins, and newspapers of the past. This, coupled with the fact that the church is also home to the oldest working pipe organ in Singapore makes for a compelling visit for history buffs.
The organ is still used during its worship services, but should you not be able to make it down, you can still hear it being played online on the church’s 24/7 perpetual adoration livestream on YouTube.
Address: A Queen Street, Singapore 188533
Opening hours: 7am-12am, Daily
Contact: 6337 2036 | Cathedral of the Good Shepherd website
8. Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Iconic statue
Image credit: Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Statues are an integral part of the church experience, serving as a visual aid for parishioners during their praying. An iconic one greets visitors of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the form of “The Immaculate Conception of Mary”.
Image credit: 张TakWAI via Google Maps
Situated in Hougang, the church holds masses in not only English and Mandarin, but also in Teochew. This harks back to the history of the neighbourhood, which was once populated by Teochews. In a bid to be even more inclusive, the Nativity church is also the only Catholic church to provide masses in Korean.
Address: 1259 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534795
Opening hours (office): Mon-Fri 9am-8pm | Sat 9am-5pm (Closed on Sundays)
Contact: 6280 0980
9. Church of the Sacred Heart – French Baroque style
Image credit: @pohsk73 via Instagram
Another location with that unmistakable French flair, the Church of the Sacred Heart gives Emily’s trip to Paris a run for its money. The Catholic church takes on a French Baroque style – think opulent, lifelike statues, and the use of bright colours on the inside.
Image credit: @chrothan via Instagram
Expect to see life-sized statues of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Joseph sculpted by Parisian artists set atop white marble altars carved by French stonemasons. Colourful, stained glass windows also paint Catholic figures of prominence such as St Joseph in a vivid light.
The church also housed the Vatican Embassy in 2011 and was the temporary home of the Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore.
Address: 111 Tank Road, Singapore 238069
Opening hours: 7.30am-6.30pm, Daily
Contact: 6737 9285 | Church of the Sacred Heart website
Bonus: CHIJMES – Convent turned popular wedding venue
This one needs no introduction – that Disney castle-like structure you see over yonder as you exit City Hall MRT is CHIJMES. If you’ve wondered why the place is pronounced as “chimes” despite the J in its acronym, the building used to be the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. It was known as the “town convent” when it was in operation as a Catholic convent in 1852.
After its last religious service in 1983, the site underwent massive restoration works which preserved much of the original convent and is now a prime paktor hotspot.
Image credit: CHIJMES via Facebook
Apart from hitting the array of cafes and restaurants, you can also immerse yourself in the history of the grounds by visiting the CHIJMES Hall and its neighbouring Caldwell House, Singapore’s second oldest building.
Address: 30 Victoria Street, Singapore 187996
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: CHIJMES website
Pretend like you’re in Europe at these churches in Singapore
There’s no simpler way to put it – churches look cool. Even more so if their storied walls are infused with Western history or architecture. Whether you’re a parishioner looking for a change of spiritual scenery or a non-believer on the lookout for IG-worthy shots, look to these churches in Singapore for that posh European feels.
For those who want a more authentic European experience:
Cover image adapted from: @novenachurch via Instagram, Blessed Sacrament Church, Armenian Church Singapore
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