The twinned bell towers of the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon are a bold reminder of Vietnam’s colonial past.
Built during the mid-19th century, the church received its ‘Notre Dame’ name due to its resemblance to its more famous Parisian counterpart. Its official name is the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception and it lies in the heart of downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
The church has architectural elements that are unmistakably European. The vast majority of the raw building materials were imported directly from France and its long, flowing naves are topped with high, Medieval-like ceilings.
Inside the cathedral, there is a stunning stained-glass window located on the left-hand side. Crafted in France, the windows were brought over to Ho Chi Minh City in the most gingerly fashion. Around the windows are a series of tiles with French inscriptions, serving as a reminder of the church’s European origins.
Visiting the Cathedral
Services are often conducted in English and the church is the go-to place of worship for Vietnam’s Catholic contingent. Renovations that took place from August 2017 to June 2020 rendered the church “out of bounds” for tourists, but normal services aren’t long from returning.
In 2005, the church became the focus of mainstream international attention. The statue of the Virgin Mary, which has been on the site since 1959, allegedly began weeping from its right cheek.
A large crowd of hopeful visitors and news stations from all over the world quickly descended on downtown Ho Chi Minh City. While Vietnam’s Catholic Church declined to confirm the incident, many witnesses were adamant they had seen this event.
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the splendor of the Notre-Dame Cathedral’s beauty. Its grandeur and spectacle will appeal to not only historians but also architecture buffs and visiting is highly recommended if you find yourself in the downtown area.
Address : 01 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Season: Open Daily | 6 AM – 8 PM