Renovation of the Xujiahui Cathedral has been completed after two years. Repair work began in 2015. (Wang Rongjiang)
The century-old Xujiahui cathedral, one of Shanghai's iconic buildings, will reopen to the public on Saturday after a two-year renovation.
Formerly known as the Saint Ignatius Cathedral, the building was once the largest cathedral in East Asia.
It was designed by a British architect and built with funds from French businessmen. Construction began in 1906 and was completed in October 1910.
Before its closure in August 2015 for safety reasons, the cathedral said the building had severe leakages and parts of the ceiling had fallen, disrupting prayer sessions and alarming visitors.
The renovation, which started in late 2015, repaired the leaky roof and damage from wind abrasion. The floor tiles and wooden floors damaged by termites were replaced.
Renovators repainted the dome and the interior wall, and stabilized the wooden handrails. They also applied anti-termite paint to protect the building.
The main altar and several smaller altars, which had been sealed off, have been refurbished.
The building's 150 windows have also been restored, with colorful paintings etched on the glass panels.
To better preserve the cathedral, the renovators extended the length of the project from the initially planned nine months to two years.
Another objective of the renovation project was to restore the cathedral's medieval Gothic appearance.
"We found and checked many historic documents and photos on the cathedral and tried to impose the minimum changes on the building to retain its historic details," said Wei Wei, the designer in charge of the renovation project.
Toward that end, the roof tiles were replaced with the original Italian shale tiles, while the red bricks on the facade were preserved. The cross on the bell tower was repainted and stabilized.
On Saturday morning, Catholic residents will attend the cathedral's reopening ceremony.
This year's Christmas Eve celebrations were expected to be held in the cathedral, which usually drew about 10,000 people each year.