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Notre Dame Cathedral

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An architectural symbol of French colonial power, Notre Dame Cathedral (Vietnamese: Nha tho Duc Ba) is a Saigon landmark and the most important church in the city.





Officially known as Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Notre Dame sits on Cong xa Paris square (also home to the historic Saigon Central Post Office), traffic circling around it like a protective moat. Designed by Parisian architect Jules Bourard, construction began in 1877 and took three years to complete to the tune of more than 2.5 million francs, an extravagant sum at the time.

Plenty of breathing space. For now. Photo taken in or around Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Plenty of breathing space. For now. Photo: Cindy Fan

It featured high-quality materials made in France including the distinctive red brick, roof tiles and 56 stained glass windows. Six bronze bells, also cast in France, and the striking spires on top of the bell towers were added in 1879, bringing it to 57.6 m high.

Don’t expect the Notre Dame of Paris, though it does have some similar elements. The interior is relatively simple and over the years, the cathedral has fallen into disrepair which is why as of July 2017, Notre Dame Cathedral is closed to tourists as it undergoes badly needed restoration work. Construction is expected to last until late 2019. Church service will continue, open only to worshippers.

Not quite as immaculate as it once was. Photo taken in or around Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Not quite as immaculate as it once was. Photo: Cindy Fan

To those lamenting not being able to enter, visitors were strictly limited to the front vestibule to begin with, and Notre Dame was always best appreciated from the outside, at all angles to admire the mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. For the next few years, it may be obstructed by fencing and scaffolding but perhaps take a cue from the Vietnamese, who are happily able to turn any backdrop into a photoshoot or a good selfie. It remains a must see on a day of sightseeing ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Notre Dame Cathedral
1 Cong xa Paris, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Location map for Notre Dame Cathedral

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