Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City

3.5 out of 5 stars 79 Reviews

Dong Khoi, District 1

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  • A slice of Paris in Vietnam

    by thescene Updated Dec 21, 2010

    Vietnam used to be a French colony and one of the buildings built during that time was the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon. Inside you can see the European inspired interiors. The exterior is a great place to take photos. This beautiful Roman Architecture cathedral is one of the best places to visit during your stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

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    SAIGON NOTRE-DAME BASILICA

    by ancient_traveler Updated Aug 13, 2010

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    Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica is a French-built Catholic cathedral located in the downtown of Saigon, Vietnam.

    In 1960, the Vatican founded Roman Catholic dioceses in Vietnam and assigned archbishops to Hanoi, Huế and Saigon. The cathedral was titled Saigon Chief Cathedral. In 1962, Vatican anointed the Saigon Chief Cathedral, conferred it basilique. From this time, this cathedral was called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.

    Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
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    Fine example of French colonial architecture

    by Willettsworld Written May 3, 2010

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    The impressive Notre Dame Cathedral was built by the French between 1863 and 1880 and features two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters (190 feet). All the original building materials were imported from France. Tiles have been carved with the words Guichard Carvin, Marseille St André France. Some tiles are carved with the words "Wang-Tai Saigon". Many tiles have since been made in Saigon to replace the tiles that were damaged by the war. There are 56 glass squares supplied by the Lorin firm of Chartres in France.

    Le Place Pigneau de Behaine, the square in front of the cathedral, holds a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary. During October 2005, the statue was reported to have shed tears, attracting thousands of people and forcing authorities to stop traffic around the Cathedral. However, the top clergy of the Catholic Church in Vietnam confirmed that the Virgin Mary statue in front of a cathedral did not shed tears.

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    Sunday morning mass for Catholics

    by iclee Written Apr 10, 2009

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    Roman Catholics may want to attend English mass at Notre Dame Cathedral every Sunday at 930am. We were lucky that it was Palm Sunday when we attended the mass. Free palm fronds were given to attendees. The mass was celebrated using old format songs. The gregorian chant like hymns were glorious to listen to. I was so glad that our biz trip coincided with Palm Sunday. :)

    A caveat though:
    They told us "No pictures" when we snapped a few after the mass.
    And they closed the church gates after the mass. I wondered why because the churches in my country stayed open most hours of the day.

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    Did the Virgin Mary shed a tear?

    by JohanIsWeg Written Dec 17, 2008

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    The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of HCMC’s most outstanding landmarks. Built between 1877 and 1880 with bricks and stained glass imported from France, the Cathedral boasts twin bell towers with iron spires and a statue of the Virgin Mary out the front. The six bronze bells weigh almost 29 tons! Total cost of the Cathedral was 2 500 000 francs.

    It is well worth walking around towards the rear of the Cathedral to view the heavy timber doors, archways and intricate architectural designs.

    Interestingly enough, reports of the Virgin Mary shedding tears in 2008 attracted thousands of spectators. Despite denials from clergy, authorities were forced to stop traffic around the Cathedral to avoid injuries to visitors.

    Notre Dame Cathedral
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    Cathedral (2)

    by kokoryko Written Nov 16, 2008

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    The first cathedral of Saigon has been built in place of an abandoned pagoda, in 1863, with stone and wood. . . . . . and very soon termites devoured the church. . . . Ah, the parabola of the houses built on sand and on the rock! So in 1877, the French governor and the bishop decided to build a “real cathedral”; all materials were imported from France, even the bricks. . . . The façade looks roman, inside it is gothic, the church is a blend of styles with a main design copying Notre dame de Paris, but smaller. Day or night, the red bricks with the white limestone rosace and window frame (pictures1 and 2) give it its character. In the garden in front is a statue of Maria, a bit lost. When you walk around the cathedral you will see the side chapels (picture 3), like little buildings surrounding the main nave; all windows are framed by white stones. Of course Catholics marry at the church or cathedral, and like in many places of Vietnam, the young married like to be photographed; so, you may see a couple posing in front of one of the doors (picture 4) when you walk around the cathedral.

    At night At day Chapels at the back Wedding at the Cathedral
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  • muratkorman's Profile Photo

    Cathedral in city center

    by muratkorman Written Nov 1, 2008

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    Notre Dame Cathedral is the main photography spot for wedding couples. During our visit we have seen at least 8 couples whose pictures were taken for their wedding albums. It was the wedding season in Vietnam during our visit and that may have caused the increase in number of couples. The cathedral is simple inside, but it is still one of the remarkable buildings which gives character to HCMC.

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  • screamcheese's Profile Photo

    Visit the Cathedral

    by screamcheese Written Oct 22, 2008

    We all know that Vietnam was conquered by a lot of countries. The French was one of them and this could be seen with the structure of the Notre Dame Cathedral. We went to mass here on my grandma's birthday and i couldn't understand anything obviously because they were speaking a different language. I observed that only a few were Catholics. Our tour guide also told us that most of them didn't believe in gods.

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  • stevemt's Profile Photo

    Visit the cathedral

    by stevemt Updated Oct 20, 2008

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    The Notra Dame Cathedral is worth a visit.

    This is definatly part of Vietnam's French heritage.

    Its a brick building, and inside I got kind of a suprise. Never before have I seen neons incorporated with the idols.

    Yes its gloomy, but that's ok. You will see the occaisional (or 6) beggar as well so be aware.

    Apart from that, its a worthwhile place to visit. Its peaceful.

    The Outside Inside Lo and Behold  :) and again
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    Notre Dame Cathedral

    by tremendopunto Updated Aug 3, 2008

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    The Notre Dame Cathedral is still in use but not open to the public all day long. So I couldnt take a look from the inside, but it is also a popular place for locals to take wedding pics - which I witnessed several times.

    Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Love is in the air - wedding pics Notre Dame
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  • Audia's Profile Photo

    Buy a Rosary there...

    by Audia Updated Mar 23, 2008

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    I always try to come to Catholic church whenever I am away. This one is a historical building in which every city tour in HCMC will include this church as a tourist spot. I managed to come in the opening hours from 3 to 4pm and stunned by the very detail ornaments of the altar as well as the peaceful feeling inside the Cathedral.

    As I walked out after praying, there was a woman standing beside a small table selling all kinds of rosary and Catholic books. I bought a pink rosary bracelet for Dong 20,000; and now regret not to buy the blue color because one of the beads in my pink rosary was broken.

    I have to go there again... ^^

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  • Mikebb's Profile Photo

    Catholic Cathedral Worth A Visit.

    by Mikebb Written Mar 16, 2008

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    From the City Centre it is an easy walk of less than 10 minutes to the Cathedral. The 40 metre high square steeples stand out on the skyline and help navigate the streets. The cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883 and has no stained glass windows as they were damaged during World War 2 and never replaced, the exterior walls being red brick have suffered water damage over the years. It can be seen where sections have been repaired , however there is need for considerable more work to be done. The lack of maintenance is typical of many classic old buildings highlighted as tourist attractions in HCMC.

    We were unable to enter the cathedral as a service was in progress when we visited late afternoon. The entry doors were open but as the fence gates were locked we had to look over the fence through the open doors to glimpse the interior.

    The Notre Dame Cathedral, HCMC Inside View Taken Through The Doors Notice Above The Cathedral Entrance
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  • zuyao's Profile Photo

    Saigon's Notre Dame

    by zuyao Written Jan 23, 2008

    The Notre Dame Cathedral is a modest replica of Paris'. It is no where as beautiful as the one in Paris but is still worth the visit. It is an attractive colonial-style building which is also a symbol of the strong presence of Christianity here. A statue of Virgin Mary also stands in front of the cathedral.

    Notre Dame Cathedral

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Pictures Around Sai Gon Day View!

    by machomikemd Updated Aug 31, 2007

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    The French took control of Saigon in 1859 and quickly embarked on a building program that included wide tree-lined boulevards and architecture that would not look out of place in Paris, and much of it survives today in Saigon's inner city districts. It may not be as concentrated as it is in Hanoi's old quarter but some of the best examples of French colonial building are to be found in Saigon - the grand central post office, the glorious wedding cake of a town hall (now the headquarters of the People's Committee), Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera House, the Majestic Hotel, the main court house, and the many shops that line Le Loi and Nguyen Hue streets and the city's other main thoroughfares.

    Indeed, the French architectural legacy is everywhere in the city, not just the centre. You just have to look out for the elegant villas and public buildings that are often hidden behind a sometimes dishevelled modern veneer.

    Sai Gon has Lots of Motorcycles Wide Avenues but lack of Cars! Motorcycle everywhere! Petrolimex Gas Station Rex Hotel
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    One of Sai gon's most prominent landmarks

    by bpwarne Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    If attending the Sunday Mass held in both English and Vietnamese (9:30AM), be sure to show up early to get a seat near one of the large floor fans as it really gets hot inside and there is no A/C. Visiting hours and service hours are listed on the accompanying picture and were up to date as of May 2007.
    Also check out the vintage motorbikes/motorcycles which are often on display on Sundays in the park across the street from the church. Collectors and afficionados just seem to gather there to show off their prized rides and trade stories.
    If you must have a cafe after services, head straight out the front door and down Dong Khoi Street to the Highlands Coffee on the right hand side. Try not to get run over crossing the street on the way there!
    The Central Post Office is located across the street from the cathedral and is also an interesting short diversion.

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