Add:West Sheshan Hill, Songjiang District
Located on the top of Sheshan west hill, the level B basilica was built in 1935. The construction lasted 10 years. The hill itself has an even longer Christian history as a Jesuit monk purchased an area on it in 1863. Since that time the hill has become a place of Christian belief. In the 1940's the Sheshan Marian Basilica was even the most famous Catholic church in the far east. Even today many pilgrims visit the basilica to worship the Christian God and "Our Lady".
Already from far away you can see the red brick church with its 38 meter high bell tower. To get up to the basilica you have two possibilities: firstly you can climb the route on foot. This way you pass an old pagoda, walk through a bamboo forest and along a zigzag path with woodcarvings on each curve showing the 14 Stations of the Cross. Secondly you can take a cable car, which is faster but of course more expensive (10 RMB per person). When you reach the top of the hill take a look around the church and enjoy the view over Shanghai's western suburban area.
The church itself is built in a cruciform shape. No nails, beams or steel were used for the construction. Instead the whole interior is made with granite. Above the marble altar the Virgin Mother, holding Jesus Christ in her arms, watches over the faithful. Up to 3000 people can find a place inside. Although the interior is less pompous the colonnade architecture is impressive.
During the Cultural Revolution, the church was severely damaged. All paintings and stained glass windows were destroyed. In 1981 the government returned the church to the Shanghai Diocese and so the basilica was renovated.
Visit the Sheshan Observatory Museum, it's next to the basilica.