Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral - Iconic Colonial French-style Landmark

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral (Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon or Duc Ba Church) an over 150-year-old church in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, has recently emerged as a prominent tourist destination. The official name of this Cathedral is "Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica".

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Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
Source: Saigon Scenes

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is now located at No.01 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1 - right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. The church was built in 1863 and J.Bourard is the designer and constructor of the church. During construction, all materials were brought from France. The cost of construction of this cathedral was about 2,500,000 French francs (at that time). 

As one of the most famous churches in Ho Chi Minh City, the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was built from 1877 to 1880. In 1903, the French erected a bronze statue of Pigneau de Béhaine. In 1958, a Carrara marble statue of Our Lady of Peace was ordered from Italy and transported to Saigon in February 1959. On December 5, 1959, the Vatican ordained Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon to the rank of a minor basilica (Basilique). In 1960, this place became the cathedral of the Archbishop of Saigon.

I - Architecture highlights of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedarl Basilica of Saigon

Duc Ba Church in 1965 - Source: Baomoi

The cathedral is designed in Roman style mixed with Gothic art with a capacity of up to 1200 people. The overall symmetrical work includes: a church 91 m long, 35.5 m wide, 21 m high dome; two bell towers 57.6m high.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City was built according to Basilica architecture, including a large central nave, 93m-long cross-shaped plan, a semicircular harem, and 5 small chapels. The construction materials of Notre Dame Cathedral were mostly transported from France such as bricks, tiles, iron and steel, stained glass,…

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral architecture

Interior architecture of Duc Ba Cathedral - Source: Amazing New Life

Inside the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, there are 2 rectangular columns, each side has 6 columns representing the 12 apostles. The altar in the Holy Palace is made of monolithic marble with the image of 6 angels supporting the altar. Notre Dame's architecture is also special by 56 stained glass doors, 31 round rose shapes, and 25 bull's-eye windows, all cleverly designed to catch the light, creating a dignified and peaceful space.

The entire surface of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon's architectural work is built with bare bricks made from Marseille and bluestone, not plastered, until now it still retains its bright pink color. The foundation of the cathedral is solidly designed, able to withstand 10 times the load of the above architecture.

In front of the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral between the two bell towers, consisting of 6 bells engraved with sophisticated patterns corresponding to 6 sounds. Four bells corresponding to the sound (Sol; map; re; mi) are hung in the right tower and the left tower keeps 2 bells corresponding to the sound (la; si). Besides, the total weight of the bell set including the bell and the counterweight is 28,895 kg.

Under the rooftop of Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is a clock that looks like a doorway weighing more than a ton, manufactured in Switzerland in 1887. Over 130 years, this ancient clock still works very well.


Notre Dame Cathedral in Vietnam

Font campus of the cathedral - Source: Internet

The campus in front of the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is designed with four intersecting roads that form the typical Catholic cross. The center of the park is the statue of Our Lady of Peace (Queen of Peace) made by the sculptor G.Ciocchetti in 1959. The statue is made of marble with a height of 4.6m and weighs 8 tons. The front of the statue has the words "REGINA PACIS - ORA PRO NOBIS - XVII." II. MCMLIX "roughly translated as" Queen of Peace pray for us 17/02/1959".

A quick look at famous churches in Hanoi

II - What to do while visiting the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral? 

1 - Joining a Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon

Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon mass schedule

Mass at the church - Source: Tgpsaigon

If you want to attend the Mass, you can visit the cathedral at the following times:

Monday - Saturday: 5:30 am; 5h30 pm

Sunday: 5:30am, 6:45am, 8am, 4pm, 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm (Mass in English: 9:30am).

2 - Taking photos

The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is regarded as a "holy land" for travelers who love to check-in or take pictures. With a large front campus, ancient exterior design, and unique interior decoration, this is also a popular destination for couples to take wedding pictures in Ho Chi Minh City. 

3 - Feeding the pigeon

Another must-try experience when going to the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica is feeding the friendly pigeons. There are many ways to get their attention and feed them such as whistling, shaking bells. You can buy a packet of food for pigeons for 12,000 VND / bag of green beans ($0.52) from the surrounding street vendors.

4 - Exploring street food near Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

There are a number of street food vendors near Duc Ba Church where you can try lots of delicious local dishes such as noodle soup and crab soup. fried rice flour cake, mixed rice paper, and fresh spring rolls. 

5 - Having coffee at the street vendors

Notre Dame Cathedral Ho Chi Minh

Street coffee - Source: Baoonline

Situated across from the main entrance of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Vietnam are a number of coffee vendors where travelers can settle down and enjoy a cup of coffee at a cheap price of about $0.65/cup. It's a hidden gem for those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City for a while. 

6 - Exploring the attractions nearby Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

There are several tourist attractions to explore near the cathedral

- Saigon Central Post Office - 70m

- Craft House (souvenir shop) - 200m

- Nguyen Van Binh Book Street - 300m

- Independence Palace - 350m

- Ho Chi Minh City Museum - 550m

- Saigon Opera House - 550m

- Ben Thanh Market - 1km

- War Remnants Museum - 1km

- Zoo and Botanical Gardens - 1.2km

- Bitexco Saigon Observatory - 1.2km

- Museum of Vietnamese History - 1.3km

III - Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral tourist information

Nha tho Duc Ba Saigon

The Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon - Source: Internet

- Entrance fee: Free 

- Ideal time to visit: 2 - 3 hours

- Dress code: Casual clothing

- Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral opening hours: 6am - 10pm

- Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon renovation: The cathedral has recently been under maintenance. Although the mass is still being held frequently, it does not welcome visitors. Therefore, you can only stand outside the eye-view room and enjoy the panoramic view of the church and the campus ahead. It is expected that by the end of 2023, the restoration process of the cathedral will be completed.

Along with Hanoi Saint Joseph Cathedral, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral are top most famous French-style churches in Vietnam. Hope you have more interesting travel experiences when traveling to Vietnam. 

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Hi, my name is Quan, and you can call me “Kun”. Having a big passion for travel, I spent 6 months traveling to most of the regions & provinces in Vietnam. I find Vietnam's landscapes are so beautiful, Vietnamese people are so friendly.

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