Buddhism is the religion which has had the greatest impact on Hangzhou during its history. Hangzhou was also called the south-east Buddhist Country during ancient times. During the twelfth century, the number of Buddhist temples reached 480 here, and the Lingyin Temple, the three Temples at Tianzhu, and the Jingci Temple are now the most famous Buddhist temples in Hangzhou.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Catholicism was introduced into Hangzhou. There are about 11 Catholic churches in the city today.
In 1859, Protestant Christianity was introduced to Hangzhou. Later, Protestant representative churches such as Sichengtang and Chongyitang were built. Chongyitang, which was later reconstructed on another site in 2005, is the biggest Chinese Protestant church in the world.
During the 6th century A.D., after the Grand Canal was completed, Islam was introduced to Hangzhou, after Arab merchants arrived in great numbers, and built the Phoenix Temple. This temple now remains on the Southern Song Imperial Street, and is one of the four biggest mosques in China.