Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is an
imposing architectural work in Paris Commune Square on a high area of central
HCM City. It does not have a yard like some other big churches in the city. Its
walls have the natural color of bricks.
Construction of the cathedral
began in October 1877. Its opening ceremony was held in April 1880. Construction
materials came from France. The cathedral is 133 meters long, 35 meters wide,
and 21 meters high. It has two bell towers with pointed tops, which are 57
Monsignor Colombert, who was
appointed bishop in 1872, made a great contribution to the construction of this
cathedral. He loved it so much that he asked the vice governor to allow him to
be buried inside it. He passed away in late 1894 and was buried behind the high
After the cathedral was
completed, French people in Saigon had different opinions about its
architecture. Some said its size was modest; others complained that it looked
like a cathedral in France rather than a cathedral in a colony. Later, this
cathedral became an important part of Saigon, and they no longer debated whether
it was ugly or beautiful.
In 1903, a statue of Mgr.
Pigneau de Behaine was erected in the park in front of the cathedral. This
showed Pigneau conducing his pupil, the young Prince Canh. He took this son of
Lord Nguyen Anh to France as a hostage to ask the French for support against Tay
Son forces. In the mid-1940s, the statue was removed.
At the end of 1959, Notre Dame
Cathedral was promoted to Basilica by the Vatican authorities. A statue of Mary,
Queen of Peace, was installed in the position of the former statue of Pigneau de
Notre Dame Cathedral used to be
the outstanding landmark of Saigon. Today, around the cathedral are office
buildings. In the past, when the French came from their motherland, two hours
before reaching Saigon Port, they could see the two bell towers of the
Every year, Christmas is
celebrated solemnly at the cathedral, with the attendance of thousands of
Christians and non-Christians. On this occasion, the cathedral is decorated with
strings of electric bulbs extending from the park to the cross on the two bell
towers. From 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the streets around it are crowded with
young people who go to join the celebrations for the birthday of Jesus Christ.
Notre Dame Cathedral is always
featured in sets of Saigon postcards.