Notre Dame de Saigon (Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon) in Ho Chi Minh City is the current Catholic church of the XIX century. It is sometimes called Notre Dame de Paris in Saigon, since it is a copy of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France. Today it is the main center of the Christian religion in the city and a popular place among tourists. Cathedral of Our Lady of Saigon
History of the Cathedral Notre Dame de Saigon is located in the central part of Ho Chi Minh City - on the Paris Commune Square. Today, the cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the area. Against the background of the 22-storey Diamond Plaza shopping center, it looks very tiny. However, in the old days it was Notre Dame towering over other buildings.
The history of the cathedral began in 1876, when the French governor Marie-Jules Dupree announced the start of a competition for the construction of the Catholic Cathedral. As conceived by the French colonists, a large Christian church in the city center was to become an ideological symbol of the greatness of Western civilization in this region and “eclipse” the numerous Buddhist pagodas in the vicinity. The winner of the competition was the project of architect Jules Bourard in the Neo-Romanesque style interspersed with Gothic architecture. The author subsequently actively oversaw the construction. Initially, three possible places for the construction of the cathedral were chosen: On the corner of the current Le Duan Boulevard and Hai Ba Trung Street; In Kinh Lon (Kinh Lon) - the area of the boulevard Nguyen Hu (Nguyễn Huệ); At the intersection of Dong Khoi and Nguyen Du, where it was built. It is interesting to note that all building materials were imported from France. So, the outer wall of the church is made of Marseille red brick. This is indicated by the presence of the marking “Guichard Carvin, Marseille St André France” on the plates. Some of them are labeled “Wang-Tai Saigon” - these are newer materials of local production. They were used during the partial restoration of the cathedral from the consequences of the Second World War. Despite the lack of special protective additives, French brick has proven itself in the hot and humid climate of Vietnam. Over the nearly 150-year history of the building, the material has not faded under the sun and retains the same appearance as in the 19th century. The thickness of the walls is, on average, 65 centimeters, and this provides the interior with an almost complete sound and heat insulation.
Stained-glass windows and columns, along with other complex interior elements, were also made in France (in Chartres) and delivered ready-made to the place of construction. Some of the stained-glass windows were destroyed by shelling during the Second World War, and today we can see copies of them.
The roof of Notre Dame consists of three types of tiles: "Yin-yang" for the low part of the roof; “Fish scales” for medium height; typical european roof tiles that adorn the top of the cathedral. By the way, the construction team also consisted entirely of visiting French. The first foundation stone was laid by Bishop Isidore Colombe on October 7, 1877. Construction took approximately 2.5 years and officially ended on April 11, 1880, on Easter Day, with a solemn consecration ceremony. It was attended by the new Governor Charles Le Muret De Willer. When you inspect the temple, pay attention to the memorial plate, which shows the name of the creator, the start and end dates of construction. The cost of construction amounted to a whopping 2.5 million francs at that time. The entire amount was allocated from the budget of France, because of which Notre Dame initially received the status of the State Council. In 1895, two bell towers 57.6 meters high were completed. On the upper part of the towers we can observe crosses 3.5 meters high and 2 meters wide, each weighing 600 kg. Thus, the full height of the cathedral in its current form reaches 60.5 meters.
According to the initial idea, the architectural composition of the building was crowned with a bronze statue at the entrance. It depicted the Bishop of Adran, Pigneau de Behaine, who leads under the arm of Prince Cунnh, son of Emperor Gia Long. The statue stood until 1945, when it was demolished. However, the pedestal is preserved. In 1959, Vietnam formalized official relations with the Vatican. This was a new impetus to the spread of Christianity in the country. Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien attended the Marian Congress that year in the Vatican and ordered a statue of the Virgin Mary for the Ho Chi Minh Temple. A 4-meter statue made of white marble, made in Rome by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Syochetti, arrived in the city on February 16, 1959. It was immediately installed on a pedestal, and a day later it was solemnly presented in the presence of the Roman Cardinal Aghajanyan. Along the way, the cathedral was named Notre Dame de Saigon (Notre-Dame de Saigon). Subsequently, the Vatican recognized it as a basilica, and today the temple is officially called the Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame (Notre-Dame Cathedral).
In 2005, it was announced that the Virgin Mary was streaming, and thousands of pilgrims gathered in Ho Chi Minh City. For some time, the city became the object of attention of the Christian Catholic community of the whole planet.
A number of travelers and experts believe that the cathedral is emphasized simple and does not represent significant interest. Especially against the backdrop of the many vibrant Buddhist pagodas of Ho Chi Minh City. But there are a number of good reasons why the building needs time. Some interesting facts about Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon: The above mentioned statue of the Virgin Mary is located in front of the entrance. The 4-meter figure of a woman holds a small globe in her hands (can be interpreted as a symbol of the spread of the Christian faith) and steps on the snake with her foot. The last symbol in the Christian faith means the victory of good over evil. At the feet of the statue is a box in which parishioners can put prayers.
There are 6 bells on the bell tower. Each of them corresponds to a certain note, and the note “fa” is absent. On weekdays, you can hear the ringing of two of them (at 05:00 and 17:30), on the weekends three are heard. All 6 Notre Dame bells ring only on the day of the feast of the Nativity of Christ. The bells are controlled by electronics, the sound is heard in a radius of 10 km. The graceful simplicity of the exterior design of the cathedral is fully offset by the interior decoration. Here you will see luxurious stained glass windows and arches, as well as murals with biblical scenes that occupy the entire space of walls and ceilings. The central place here is occupied by the altar of expensive pure white marble with carved statues of angels.
During the service, guests of the temple can hear choral singing and playing the church organ. This is one of the two oldest instruments in Vietnam, which is designed in a special way: the sound is well heard in any part of the room, but it does not extend outside the temple. The design of 10-centimeter aluminum pipes has dimensions of 3x4x4 meters (height, width, length). Notre Dame de Saigon has been fully electrified since construction. Here you will not see candles, they have never been used. Watches from the facade were made in Switzerland in 1887. They are suspended between two belfries at a height of 15 meters. Weigh 1 ton.