Located at the heart in Ho Chi Minh City downtown, Notre Dame Cathedral is said to be the top spot for for those who wish to ease their mind from stresses of daily life and immerse in tranquil atmosphere of religious buildings.
Where is Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, also known as Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica or Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception is situated in No. 1 Cong Truong Cong xa Paris St, District 1.
Notre Dame Cathedral
If you want to visit Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, you can go there by car, taxi or bus. It will take 20 minutes from the center of Ho Chi Minh city via Cong Hoa Street. You can also get there by bus. If you are taking a bus, bus numbers 04, 120, 18, 30, 31, 36, 93 can help you.
The history of this cathedral starts from the conquest of French in the late 19th century. The French government at that time wanted to have a big church to serve a community and religious services for French colonialists. The first church on Ngo Duc Ke Street was too small, so French Admiral Bonard decided to build a larger church. The construction was started on March 28th, 1863. After two years, the building was completed and called “ Saigon Church”.
In 1895, the French-built two bell towers to the cathedral, each 57.6 high. There are smaller six bronze bells around the towers. The crosses were equipped on the top of each tower. Each of them is 3.5 m high, 2 m wide, and 600 kg in weight. At this time, the height of the building, from root to top is 60.5 meters.
The French also constituted a bronze statue of Pigneau de Behaine (also called Bishop of Adran) leading Prince Canh, the eldest son of Emperor Gia Long. This statue was in front of the church. In 1945, the statue was destroyed but the base of the statue remained.
In 1959, Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien ordered a statue of Our Lady of Peace in Rome. On 6 February 1959, he held a ceremony to install the statue on an empty base. The next morning, Cardinal Agagianian from Rome solemnly chaired the ceremony for the statue; thus, the cathedral was called Notre-Dame Cathedral.
In 1960, Pope John XXIII erected Roman Catholic dioceses in Vietnam and the cathedral was named Saigon Chief Cathedral. In 1962, he anointed the Saigon Chief Cathedral and conferred the status of a basilica. From this time, this cathedral was called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
The church is mostly made of imported materials from French such as cement, stained glasses, red bricks. These materials have good quality, last for long. The Cathedral was designed by architect Jules Bourard, an expert in religious architecture. It was designed based on the model of Notre Dame de Paris but smaller and combines Romanesque and Gothic styles. The outer wall of the cathedral was built with red bricks made in Marseille.
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral is designed and built with a strong capacity for endurance which can withstand 10 times the load of the current church architecture. See more detail of the cathedral below
The total length of the cathedral is 93m. The width of the widest place is 35 m. The height of the cathedral dome is 21 m. The church’s capacity can reach up to 1,200 people. It has one main hall and two chambers, next to the prayer hall. The cathedral has 56 doorway windows portraying characters or events that related to the Bible along with 31 rounded roses and 25 multicolored glass windows.
Inside The Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral has two bell towers consisting of 6 bells engraved with sophisticated patterns corresponding to 6 sounds. The bells are electrically controlled from below. On weekdays, the cathedral only rings at 5 am and at 4:15 pm. On holidays and Sundays, the church usually gives three rings. It was on Christmas Eve only to ring all six bells. You can even hear the bells from 10km away.
There is a big clock between the two bell towers. It was manufactured in 1887 and has 1 ton in weight. These bells were made in Switzerland in 1887, and have a unique hammer alarm system that hits the church bells.
The campus in front of the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica is designed with four intersecting roads that form the typical Catholic cross. At the center of the square is a statue of Our Lady of Peace (or Queen of Peace), which was made by the sculptor G. Ciocchetti in 1959. The statue is 4.6 m high, 8 tons in weight, made by Italian white granite. The status is holding the globe with a cross attached. The Lady’s eyes are staring at the sky. It seems that she is praying for Vietnam and for the world to be peaceful.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Visiting Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, tourists are welcomed to take photographs around the place with a beautiful park and statue of Notre Dame in the front. However, you should show respect to the holy place by dressing conservatively and don’t take photos inside the hall.
After wandering and taking nice photographs with the Notre Dame Cathedral, you can enjoy the city center’s atmosphere around with a variety of premium coffee shops to local sidewalk coffee vendors. The locals often feed the doves landing around the area, which attracts many of them to come in every day. Seeing this view is worth your while, definitely.