Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. It is a magnificient building located at the paris Square which attracts a lot of visitors coming here.
Sitting between two streams of traffic, Notre Dam Cathedral is in the middle of Saigon’s chaotic District 1. The streets outside are always bustling with traffic and street vendors. Inside, the decor is austere, but the church is lively during services and is a great location for wedding photos. But not only the inside.
Around the red brick building you often see teams of photographers with wedding couples, the brides either in European white dresses, Asian red dresses or traditionally Vietnamese: in the red áo dài.
Many tourists head straight to Notre Dame Cathedral, or Notre Dame de Saigon as it was called by the French, as their first point of interest in Saigon, and with good reason.
It’s hard to miss the church’s twin towers projecting into the sky for some 60 meters.
Name of Saigon Nortre Dame Cathedral Basilica
Originally, Ho Chi Minh City’s most prominent sacral building was simply called Saigon Church.
In 1959 Bishop Pham Van Thien held the ceremony to install the statue of Peaceful Notre Dame, which was imported from Rome, hewn out of a block of Italian granite.
The current name Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica replaced the older term in 1962, when the Vatican elevated the building to a basilica and declared it chief cathedral of Saigon.
Construction history and material
Notre Dame Cathedral’s red bricks arrived in Vietnam from Marseille, and Bishop Lefevre himself laid the first stone for the construction of the basilica on 28th of March in 1863.
At the time when the church was constructed, it was the most beautiful sacral building in the French colonies, not only a religious flagship, but also imposing the French influence in Indochina. The vivid, red bricks retain their color until today. Back then they were unique and marveled upon by the locals.
Broken tiles and bricks have been replaced with local material from Vietnam.
The Miracle of 2005
In 2005, the statue of the virgin Mary located out front supposedly shed tears, according to eyewitnesses, although the Catholic Church refuted this event. But whether the Vatican approved of it or not, the alleged miracle caused such a huge commotion that the traffic jam could only be dissolved by police intervention.
The reminiscent of an ancient charming Saigon
In front of the cathedral stands a Virgin Mary statue, which is said to have shed tears in 2005, causing thousands of people to stop around the Basilica. Amidst an active and continuously moving Saigon today, the French-influenced design of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral still acts as a stop for people who seek for old beauties and calmness. Not only followers keep praying under candle lights in front of Virgin Mary statue everyday but tourists and local people also come there to discover the true soul of the city. The cathedral looks most beautiful in daylight, together with the smiles of couples coming to take photograph and record movies, especially for wedding.
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