Vietnam is a country that has by far the most citizens who follow Buddhism. Nevertheless, due to the conquest of French colonialism, catholicism has thrived and became one of the most popular religions in Vietnam. Today, there are so many churches, cathedrals scatter from the North to the South of Vietnam, among them is Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, a symbol of Ho Chi Minh tourism when people talk about it.
Address and How to Find the Parking Lot?
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is situated on Le Duan street, in fact, it is near the roundabout of the hub of the city.
Going to the church is easy, you can choose to get there by bus, take yourself a ride or book a tech “xe om” such as Grab, Be, or Go Jek.
For those who want to explore Saigon’s roads and streets on their scooters, I’d like to show up some reasonable-priced parking lots you might want to take a look at when visiting the Notre Dame cathedral of Saigon.
Here is the list:
- Basement at Diamond Plaza, near to the church.
- Ho Chi Minh book street on Hai Ba Trung, you can park there and jog to the church.
- Ho Chi Minh opera house’s basement.
Best Time to Visit the Cathedral
The church opening hours start from 6 am to 8 pm. However, I recommend you should have a visit to 9:30 am because it is a great time to enjoy the whole scenery in pleasant weather.
The History of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Name
Presumably, Notre Dame Cathedral is considered one of the oldest churches in Vietnam. Nevertheless, not so many people know an interesting fact that there was a pagoda at the position. Instead, the first wooden version, which many people know about, was built on the bank of the Charner canal and called Saigon Church. Unfortunately, wars demolished the church and made all of the prayers move their livings and worship to the guest-chamber of the Frech Governor’s palace.
Due to the need for worship and the hope of maintaining Christianity, people decided to have a plan for building a brand-new church. After the design competition, J. Bourard won the bid and became the supervisor of construction.
On 7 October 1877, the construction began and took 3 years to complete. On Easter Day, 11 April 1880, there was a blessing ceremony to celebrate the opening day of the cathedral. However, the name of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was not the official name for the church at that time.
Until 1959, Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien held a ceremony to install a granite statue, called “Notre-Dame Bless The Peace To Vietnam”. Because of the original name, the infrastructure has been commonly called Notre Dame Cathedral.
It’s Exquisite Architecture
It is undeniable that Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is recognized as the mini version of Notre-Dame de Paris since it owns the marvelous architecture that lasts for centuries, regardless of a variety of elements such as damages from wars, the run-down conditions, etc.
Over 100 years, the cathedral still remains its early construction from the core architecture to the red color coming from bricks of the building.
As a whole, the cathedral has 1 main block and 2 bell towers which were constructed after the main building in 1895. All of the materials used for the construction imported from the French.
Particularly, people used bricks from Toulouse to build the outside wall. This material is super colorfast regardless of time. Until these days, the whole infrastructure still remains the bright red color.
About 2 bell towers, each of them is 57.6m in height and 28.85 metric tones, with 6 bronze bells in each tower. On the top of those towers, there are 2 crosses for each one, which brings the total height of the cathedral is 60.5m.
In addition, there is a small garden in front of the cathedral where has the statue of Our Lady of Peace made from granite in Rome. In Oct 2005, people believed that the statue had shed tears which foreshadowed the bad omen for the country. The rumor attracted thousands of people and messed up the traffic for a long time. However, the top clergy of the catholic church asserted that the fact was totally baseless. The “shed tear” maybe a trace after a big rain the day before because the statue was located outside.
Today, the Saigon Notre Dame cathedral is a big hit with tourists that attracts a lot of visitors coming to Ho Chi Minh city. Also, this place is a common choice for couples who want to take wedding photos right in front of the church. Therefore, when you have a chance, don’t hesitate to take a photo of this attraction!
The Renovation of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
Since the deterioration, Ho Chi Minh city’s government decided to upkeep the tourist attraction for the purpose of keeping one of the symbols of the city. The renovation started in 2017 and expects to finish in 2020. However, the plan might not meet the deadline because of the worse damages than estimated.
Nearby Places to Go
Definitely, there are a lot of places of interest around the cathedral. Together they would cost you days to visit every tourist destination in Ho Chi Minh City. In detail, here are the addresses and opening hours for those destinations:
- Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Thanh ward, district 1
- Opening hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm every day
- Ticket fee: VND 40.000
Ho Chi Minh City Post Office
- Address: 2 Paris Commune street, district 1
- Opening hours: 8 am – 6 pm every day
- Ticket fee: free
Ho Chi Minh Opera House
- Address: 7 Dong Khoi, Ben Nghe ward, district 1
- Opening time: only opens when it has shows
- Ticket fee: depends on the show
Ho Chi Minh central walking street
- Address: Nguyen Hue street, district 1
- Opening time: all-day
- Ticket fee: free
Like other cultural relics of Saigon, Saigon Notre Dame cathedral is really something to me. It is a place where I love to take time and let my stress meander along with clouds in the sky. So, next time when you have time for Ho Chi Minh city, please visit this place, to enjoy a hubbub but chilling Saigon.
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