Duc Ba Cathedral

Location: 1 Cong Xa Paris Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Characteristic: This is one of the oldest and biggest Catholic churches in Viet Nam.

HISTORY

The resplendent Governor's Palace, completed in 1875, symbolized the regime's political power in Asia. And five years later, the Duc Ba (Our Lady's) Cathedral was inaugurated, and became the spiritual and cultural crucible of the French presence in the Orient.

 

After the first French colonizing force arrived in Viet Nam in the mid - 19th century, it took only 21 years before the country had a cathedral to match the hulking Gothic edifices of France itself. The cathedral is supposed to represent the glory of the French Empire. Yet, as is always the case with colonization, this attempt to import French traditions into Viet nam transformed the colonizers' culture in the process. Even though the cathedral is built in a Western architectural style, it has a uniquely Eastern aspect.

 

ARCHITECTURE

Several architects put forward design proposals for the cathedral, but in 1877 the authorities selected Mr Bourard, who was famed for his religious architecture. He envisaged, and executed, a basilica-like structure with a square plan. The cathedral is composed of two main central bays with two sidereal corridors, with tall pillars and light coming in through sets of high windows, and a semi-circular shrine. The style follows a Roman pattern, although the outside contains some modifications: the cathedral's vaults are Gothic, and a modern steel skeleton supports the whole building.



In 1894 a pointed minaret was added to the bell tower, at the behest of an architect named Gardes, who was also responsible for the Xa Tay Palace, the building that now houses the Municipal People's Committee. The cathedral is a much smaller than those in France, but it was the largest in the French empire. The interior is very large: the principal shrine and two additional bays are 93m long, and reach 35m in width at one point. The semi-circular shrine at the rear seats a choir during services, and there are five chapels.

 

The walls are made of Bien Hoa granite, combined with red tiles from Marseilles, all without coating. Red tiles from France were also used on the roofs, but they were later replaced with tiles of equal quality from Phu Huu. Natural light streams in through stained-glass windows which were made by the Lorin Company from the French town of Sartre.

 

The whole building is well-ventilated thanks to a system of air-holes placed above and under the windows. The belfry is 57m high. For a long time it was the highest structure in the city centre, and was the first thing an arriving traveller would see when approaching the city by boat. Six bells weigh a combined 25,850kg. In 1885, the floor was taken apart and new pillars were added, because the original foundation could not bear the cathedral's weight. Stepping inside the cathedral, tourists see a line of Chinese characters eulogizing the Jesus' mother, "the innocent and unblemished Virgin Mother", and stained-glass portraits of Vietnamese believers amid Asiatic plants. On the square in front of the cathedral, there is a statue of the Virgin Mother made of white marble, symbolizing peace. All told, it's an unusual building: a Western architectural and religious style that has been transplanted into, and adapted to, the East. The colonizers were trying to impose French beliefs and customs onto Viet Nam but once that culture arrived on Asia's shores, it took on a life of its own. The cathedral is seen as a unique synthesis, adding an unmistakable Oriental flavour to an ancient Occidental recipe.

 

 

ALBUM
NEARBY DESTINATIONS
Giac Lam Pagoda

Ho Chi Minh City

Nguyen Hue Walking Street

Ho Chi Minh City

Koi Fish Park

Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels

Ho Chi Minh City

WHERE TO STAY
Cat Huy Hotel

Add: 353/28 Pham Ngu Lao St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3920 8716

Giang Son Hotel

Add: 283/14 Pham Ngu Lao St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3837 7547

Bee Sai Gon Hotel

Add: 185/26 Pham Ngu Lao St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3836 0678

Ma Dam Cuc 64 Hotel

Add: 64 Bui Vien St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3836 5073

Nhat Quang Hotel

Add: 109 Nguyen Cong Tru St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3821 0577/ 3821 1487

Somerset Ho Chi Minh City

Add: 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3822 8899

Le Le Hotel

Add: 171 Pham Ngu Lao St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3836 8686

Quang Hotel

Add: 19 Nguyen Van Thu St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3910 3135

Tan Hai Long 4 Hotel

Add: 81 Hai Ba Trung St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3822 7888

Sedona Suites Apartment

Add: 65 Le Loi Blvd., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3822 9666

Lien An Hotel

Add: 181 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3827 2222

Caravelle Hotel

Add: 19 Lam Son Square, Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3823 4999

Tuong Vu Global Hotel

Add: 40-42 Bui Thi Xuan St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3925 9271

Em and Em Hotel

Add: 21 Bui Thi Xuan St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 6290 6288

Charner Hotel

Add: 29 Thu Khoa Huan St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3825 8558/ 0933345786

Giang Son 2 Hotel

Add: 283/24 Pham Ngu Lao St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3920 9838

Cap Town Hotel

Add: 28 - 30 Le Anh Xuan St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3823 1222

Saigon Amigo Hotel

Add: 185/24 Pham Ngu Lao St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3837 1004

A&Em 44 Phan Boi Chau Hotel

Add: 44-46 Phan Boi Chau St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3915 2727

Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon

Add: 8-15 Ton Duc Thang St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3822 0033

WHERE TO EAT
Thai Village

Add: 38 Ly Tu Trong St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3825 6704

Non La Restaurant

Add: 19 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3910 4012

Cung Dinh Rex Restaurant

Add: 146 Pasteur St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3829 2185

Song Ngu Restaurant

Add: 70 Suong Nguyet Anh St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3832 5017

Quan An Ngon Restaurant

Add: 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3825 7179

Kinh Bac Restaurant

Add: 30 Dong Khoi St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3829 1364

Liberty Restaurant

Add: 80 Dong Khoi St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3824 8249/ 3829 9820

Thanh Nien Restaurant

Add: 35 Hai Ba Trung St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3822 5909

Yeebo Restaurant

Add: 1 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3823 0368

The Sushi Bar

Add: 2 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3823 8042

Ashoka Restaurant

Add: 17/10 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3823 1372

Malee Thai Restaurant

Add: 37 Dong Du St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3829 3029

Amigo Restaurant

Add: 55 - 57 Nguyen Hue St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3829 0437

Gerten Stadt Restaurant

Add: 34 Dong Khoi St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3822 3623

La Taverne Restaurant

Add: 76 Suong Nguyet Anh St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3925 2616

Good morning Vietnam Restaurant

Add: 197 De Tham St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3837 1894

La Camargue Restaurant

Add: 191 Hai Ba Trung St., Dist. 3

Tel: (84-28) 3520 4888

Sama Restaurant

Add: 35 Dong Du St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3822 4814

Château Restaurant

Add: 160B Tran Hung Dao St., Dist. 1

Tel: (84-28) 3920 0079

Bo De Nguyen Thuy Restaurant (Bohi Tree)

Add: 175/16 Pham Ngu Lao St., Dist.1

Tel: (84-28) 3837 1910