Explore Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, the most famous sightseeing destination in Saigon

13 Apr 2024

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was built with classical French architecture, carrying important cultural, historical and religious significance.

church location

Paris Commune Construction Site, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral or Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is a name that people shorten for convenient use. The full name of this project is the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

The church is 91m long, 35.5m wide, and the main dome is 21m high. The two bell towers on both sides are nearly 57m high. Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was built with classic French architecture, designed by talented architect J.Bourard. The outside space of the church is very large and airy, the inside is majestic and ancient. Therefore, according to MIA.vn, this is one of the most famous attractions in Saigon, loved by both domestic and foreign tourists.

History of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

The history of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral began with the French war of invasion at the end of the 19th century. The French government at that time wanted to build a large church to serve the community and religious activities for the government. French government and army. The first church was located on Ngo Duc Ke Street but was too small so the French Admiral Bonnard decided to build a larger church.

Construction of this Saigon Cathedral began on March 28, 1863. After two years, the church was completed. In 1895, the French built two more bell towers. Around the tower there are six small bronze bells. At the top of each tower is a cross that is 3.5m high, 2m wide and weighs 600kg. At this time, the height of the building, from the ground to the highest point, was 60.5m

The French also cast a bronze statue of Pigneau de Behaine (also known as Bishop Adran) holding the hand of Prince Canh, the eldest son of King Gia Long. This statue is located in front of the church

. In 1945, the statue was destroyed but its base still remains. In 1959, Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien ordered the statue of Our Lady of Peace from Rome. On February 7, 1959, Cardinal Agagiianian came from Rome to solemnly inaugurate the statue. Since then, the church has been called Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral by the people.
In 1960, Pope John XXIII established the Roman Catholic diocese in Vietnam and the church was renamed Saigon Cathedral. In 1962, the Pope gave the church the title Basilica.

To date, this church has undergone three restorations. The first restoration was to build a bell tower with a pointed roof in 1895. The second time in 1903 was to renovate the church facade, build a flower garden and the Ba Da Loc monument. The third time was the installation of the statue of Our Lady of Peace in 1959.

At present, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is undergoing its 4th restoration, a major restoration project that started in August 2017. It is expected that the project will be completed in June 2017. 2020. However, due to many problems, repairs are expected to be completed by 2027.

During the renovation process, the church is still open to Catholic parishioners every Sunday. In particular, at 9:30 every Sunday, there is mass in both Vietnamese and English. For tourists and visitors, they can still walk and take photos in the surrounding campus or the square in front of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral.

Highlights in the architecture of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was built with the neo-Romanesque Revival (or Neo-Romanesque) architectural style. This was a building style popular around the mid-19th century, inspired by 11th and 12th century Romanesque architecture. Buildings in this style tend to feature arches and portholes. simple disign.

During the construction of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, all materials from cement, steel to screws were brought from France. The exterior of the building is made of bricks produced in Marseille. The advantage of this type of brick is that it is bare, not plastered, not mossy, and still retains its bright pink color after decades. The entire cathedral has 56 stained glass windows produced in Chartres province (France).

The foundation of the cathedral is specially designed to bear 10 times the weight of the entire architectural volume. And a very special thing is that the church does not have fences or walls like the churches around Saigon Gia Dinh at that time.

The interior of the cathedral has two main rectangular rows, with six rows on each side representing the 12 apostles. The altar of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is made of monolithic marble with six angels carved into the stone. The pedestal is divided into three cells, each cell is a sculpture depicting a relic.
The walls are decorated with 56 glass windows depicting biblical characters or events, 31 round rose figures, 25 multicolored bulls-eye windows combined with beautiful images. All lines, edges, and patterns follow stately and elegant Roman and Gothic forms. However, out of these 56 glass doors, only 4 are still intact. The other glass doors were repaired in 1949 because they were destroyed during the war.

Church bell tower The original design had two bell towers that were 36.6m high, had no roof and only had a narrow staircase of about 40cm. The interior is dark and the floor is lined with small pieces of wood. In 1895, the church built two more roofs to cover the 21m high bell tower designed by architect Gardes, for a total of 57m high bell tower. All six bells are hung on two bell towers. This bell was made in France and brought to Saigon in 1879.

The bell is controlled electronically from below. On weekdays, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral only rings at 5:00 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. On holidays and Sundays, the church often rings three bells. 6 bells ringing at the same time will have a very loud sound, you can even hear the bell from 10km away.

Between the two bell towers is a very large clock. It was produced in 1887 and weighs 1 ton. Even though it is more than a hundred years old, the clock still operates very accurately.

Small square in front of the church Paris Commune Square is located between Notre Dame Cathedral and Nguyen Du Street. In the center of the main square is where the statue of Our Lady of Peace is located. This is where visitors often stop to drink coffee, take photos, and watch pigeons. Especially on weekend mornings, many young people gather here to chat and have fun together.

The image of Notre Dame Cathedral has long become a representative part of the magnificent land of Saigon. Near the church there is also the Independence Palace and the city Post Office. You can combine visiting these three famous destinations to explore Saigon to the fullest.

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