Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon, officially known as the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica, is considered a magnificent piece of urban architecture in Saigon. This is a particularly remarkable work of Catholic church architecture and, in general, religious architecture, making it the largest of its kind in Vietnam.
History of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon has a long history, dating back to the period of French colonial rule in Vietnam. The French, seeking a place of worship for Catholic believers, decided to establish a cathedral in Saigon.
From that decision, Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon came into existence. The location of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Saigon was constructed on the site of an ancient temple in present-day District 1.
During the time of Governor of Nam Ky, Duperre, a design by architect J. Bourad was selected from 17 proposed designs to build the Notre-Dame Cathedral in a Romanesque and uniquely Gothic style, blending European architectural elements.
At that time, the cathedral served not only as a place of worship but also as a symbol of French culture, representing French civilization in the heart of Saigon.
Information to Know Before Visiting Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon
- Address: 1 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
- Opening Hours: 5:30 AM – 5:00 PM
- Admission: Free
- Visiting Duration: 90 minutes to 2 hours
Getting to Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
You have several transportation options to get to Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon, including:
- Bus: You can take a public bus to the cathedral. Check the local bus routes and schedules for the most convenient option.
- Motorcycle/Scooter: Riding a motorcycle or scooter is a common mode of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City. It offers flexibility in navigating through traffic and finding parking.
- Cyclo: For a unique and immersive experience, you can take a cyclo, a traditional bicycle rickshaw, to get to the cathedral while enjoying the city’s scenery.
Furthermore, if you wish to visit multiple places and require a convenient and personalized transportation option, you can consider using the private car service in Ho Chi Minh City provided by DanangPrivateCar.com’s. Our drivers can pick you up from your hotel or the airport and take you to your desired destinations, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Using a private car service can be cost-effective and convenient for groups of friends, families, and international travelers, especially when navigating the public transportation system in Ho Chi Minh City can be challenging.
Distinctive Architectural Features
The remarkable feature that attracts thousands of tourists to Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is its interior architecture, filled with a distinct French colonial style that is rarely found elsewhere.
To achieve the complete architecture as we see it today, it underwent a long journey with various stories. Let’s explore and discover the different parts of the cathedral to understand the significance of each architectural area.
Notre-Dame Cathedral was constructed by the French, and all the materials used were transported from France. The foundation of the cathedral was specially designed to bear ten times the weight of the entire structure above.
The Nave is the main and widest area of the cathedral, capable of accommodating more than 1200 people. It has dimensions of approximately 91 by 35.5 meters, with a vaulted roof reaching a height of about 21 meters. The interior of the entire nave is designed with a central section flanked by two side aisles and a row of prayer chapels on both sides.
The entire nave contains 56 stained glass windows. These windows depict events and figures from the Bible, a familiar feature in most churches. Additionally, there are numerous decorative elements and motifs in the interior following a combination of Roman and Gothic architectural styles.
The Bell Towers
It wasn’t until 1895, 15 years after the completion of the cathedral, that the two bell towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral were constructed. The cathedral has undergone multiple renovations and modifications. According to the design by Gardes, the current bell towers are 57 meters high, with a 21-meter-high roof.
A total of six bells, with different musical notes, are hung on the two towers. These bells were designed and cast by French artisans.
The Altar Area in Notre-Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh City
When visiting Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City, tourists should not overlook the altar area. The altars here are intricately carved from solid blocks of marble. There are 56 multi-colored stained glass windows that are assembled to create an impressive image. All the lines, moldings, and decorative motifs in the altar area are in a Roman and Gothic style, exuding a sense of solemnity and elegance.
The Statue of Our Lady of Peace and the Park Outside
In front of Notre-Dame Cathedral, there is a green courtyard with four intersecting roads forming the shape of a cross, a symbol of Catholicism. The focal point and the soul of the cathedral is the statue of Our Lady of Peace, made from white marble, at the center of the park. It was sculpted by G. Ciocchetti in 1959.
The statue was brought from Rome and placed on the base of the previous statue, which depicted the prison warden Adran leading Prince Canh (son of Emperor Gia Long). The symbol of peace replaced the declaration “Protect, Enlighten Vietnam,” which is the reason the cathedral is called Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica from then on.
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Activities to Do When Visiting Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
Explore the Cathedral’s Interior
Every corner of the cathedral boasts exquisite and beautiful European-style architecture from ancient times. If you come here, take a stroll and discover the secrets within Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Saigon. The cathedral is open to visitors every day. Both city residents and tourists come here to pray.
Enjoy Saigon Sidewalk Coffee
Iced milk coffee, an unmissable drink. It’s a way to explore the unique local culture of Saigon. What could be better than visiting the cathedral, heading to a sidewalk corner, a nearby street vendor, and savoring an authentic Saigon coffee? Meanwhile, you can admire the beautiful architectural work of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Saigon.
Feed the Pigeons
When visiting the cathedral, prepare some bread crumbs or seeds. There are very friendly pigeons here, ready to greet you and play with you. This is sure to be a highly enjoyable experience when visiting Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
Experience Unique Street Food
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is very close to Saigon’s alleys, the culinary heavens of the city. Here, you can find a plethora of exceptional street foods. Some dishes you should try include “bánh căn” (rice cakes), “bột chiên” (fried rice cake), crab soup, fresh spring rolls, “bánh tráng trộn” (mixed rice paper) and more. A highly recommended spot to visit is Alley 84 Nguyen Du.
Take a Cyclo Ride and Explore the City
From the cathedral, you can easily hire a cyclo (bicycle rickshaw). This will allow you to embark on a tour exploring other prominent tourist destinations in Saigon. It’s certainly an enjoyable and worthwhile experience to try when visiting this beautiful city.
Suggesting some attractions near Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ho Chi Minh City
Here are some suggested attractions near Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Independence Palace: A historic landmark, this palace played a significant role in the Vietnam War and offers insight into the country’s history.
- Turtle Lake: A popular local hangout known for its iconic turtle-shaped fountain.
- Vietnam History Museum: Explore the rich history and culture of Vietnam through a diverse collection of artifacts and exhibits.
- Bitexco Financial Tower: An iconic skyscraper in the city, offering panoramic views from its observation deck.
- “Cloud-checking” at Landmark 81: Visit Landmark 81, one of the tallest buildings in Southeast Asia, for breathtaking city views and a unique “cloud-checking” experience.
- Nguyen Hue Walking Street: A lively pedestrian street with street performances, shopping, and dining options.
- Ben Thanh Market: Explore this bustling market for a variety of local goods, souvenirs, and street food.
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is an appealing tourist destination in Ho Chi Minh City that visitors should explore. It’s not just a famous architectural masterpiece but also a witness to the history of Saigon, having seen many changes and developments in this vibrant city. Therefore, this place continually draws millions of tourists, both local and international, every year.