11 July 2024

Charoenkrung is one of the best known multicultural areas of Bangkok. This creative district is home to the most active art and cultural scene in town. It is located along the Chao Phraya River, in the Bangrak area.

In this community, between Charoenkrung Sois 34, 36 and 38, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians have co-existed for over a century. It is home to the Muang Kae Buddhist Temple, the Haroon Mosque and the Assumption Christian Cathedral.

Muang Kae Temple was built in 1768. In the past, the pier was the main entrance to the temple, but it was given road access when Charoenkrung Road was constructed.

Once you step into the temple, you will be in awe of the mural paintings.

Right next to the temple is the Islamic cemetery of Haroon Mosque, one of Bangkok’s most significant mosques, surrounded by a Muslim community.

Haroon mosque was built in 1828 by Haroon Bafadel, the son of an Indonesian-Arab trader, who relocated and settled in Bangkok.

The mosque was first built in wood. It is said to have been beautifully designed in a hybrid Ayutthaya-Java style. In 1934, Haroon’s son, Muhammad Yusuf, decided to renovate the building to its brick and lime construction we see today.

One can respectfully observe the religious activities, if permitted by the worshippers, or enjoy a variety of Thai-Muslim foods sold by residents.

A 350 metre walk to the south of the mosque is the gorgeous Assumption Cathedral, the principal Roman Catholic Church in Thailand and the centre of the Archdiocese of Bangkok.

The original building was constructed at the request of a French missionary, Father Pascal, in 1809 and is the work of a French architect, which was completed in 1821. The cathedral was named Assumption after the Virgin Mary and she is commemorated at the church during The Feast of the Assumption on 15th August, which is St. Mary’s Day.

Today, 3 schools are located within the compound of the Cathedral: The Assumption College, the Assumption Convent and the Assumption Suksa. There used to be a seminary and a printing house as well, surrounded by the offices of various Catholic organizations.

For more than a century the faithful of these 3 religions have lived together in harmony.

We can say that Thais, and other people of different ethnic origins, are familiar with cultural diversity, a culture of peace.

In the next episode, we will meet the religious leaders of the community, and find out how they live together, despite their differences.

By Kitipat Chuensukjit, Thai PBS World