Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral is located in Ho Chi Minh City, very close to Saigon Central Post Office, and is the largest Catholic church in Vietnam and a major tourist attraction.
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral is currently (late 2018) under renovation and closed to visitors. The cathedral is normally open daily from 08:00 to 17:00 and for mass at 09:30 on Sundays. Admission is free and people of all faiths are welcome to visit.
About Notre-Dame Cathedral
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral was opened on Easter Day in 1880, although the building as stands today was not completed until 1885 when the two 58 metre high bell towers were retrospectively added to the original structure. There are 3 large bronze bells in each tower. On top of each bell tower there are 600 kg crosses bringing the total height of the building up to 60.5 metres above ground level.
Statue of the Virgin Mary in front of the Cathedral
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral was built during the period when Vietnam was a French colony. At the time construction started, in 1877, Saigon’s only church was a wooden building which had been rendered unusable on account of termites having eaten away large parts of the structure. To ensure that the new church lasted the test of time in the corrosive humid climate of southern Vietnam the French authorities imported all the construction materials from France. The distinctive red bricks were made in Toulouse and the roof tiles from various manufacturers across France. The cost of construction was massively inflated by the decision to bring even the most basic of building materials from Europe, and a strategy sharply contrasting with that of the British colonialists in Kuala Lumpur who actively encouraged local production of major building materials such as bricks.
Bell towers of Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral, or the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, started out simply known as Saigon Church. The name change to Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral came in 1959 after then Bishop Pham Van Thien arranged for the production of a large granite statue of the Virgin Mary to be installed in front of the cathedral on an empty plinth, which had previous held a controversial and highly symbolic statue of the Bishop of Adran leading the son of Vietnamese Emperor Gia Long by the hand.
Main entrance to Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral
According to local legend the Virgin Mary Statue starting weeping in 2005. The Catholic Church official denied that this occurred, nonetheless, the story has a added a certain mystique to the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral which remains today.