Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica – cathedral in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica which is also known as Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception is a cathedral which is situated in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Overview and History of Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

• It is established by French colonists.
• The cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880.
• It has two bell towers.
• It reaches a height of 58 meters.
• The French conquest took place between Cochin China and Saigon.
• The Roman Catholic Church established a community and religious services.
• The first church was built on today’s Ngo Duc Ke Street.
• A Vietnamese pagoda had been abandoned during the war.
• Bishop Lefevre decided to make this pagoda a church.
• The last church was too small.
• In 1863, Admiral Bonard decided to build a wooden church.
• This is on the bank of Charner canal.
• Lefevre put the first stone for construction of the church on 28 March 1863.
• The construction was completed two years later.
• This was known as “Saigon Church”.
• The wooden church was damaged by termites.
• The church services were held in the guest-chamber of the French Governor’s Palace.
• This palace turned into a seminary until the Notre-Dame Cathedral was completed.
• J. Bourad became supervisor of constructions.

Construction of Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

There were three proposed sites for construction:
– On the site of the former test school
– At Kinh Lon
– At the present site
• All building materials were imported from France.
• The outside wall of the cathedral was built with bricks which came from Marseille.
• Contractor did not use coated concrete.
• These bricks have retained their bright red color even today.
• Bishop Isidore Colombert laid the first stone on 7 October 1877.
• The construction of the cathedral took three years.
• The total cost was 2,500,000 French francs.
• The cathedral was called State Cathedral.
• In 1895, two bell towers were added to the cathedral.
• Each of them is 57.6 m high with six bronze bells.
• The total weight of 28.85 metric tones.
• The crosses were installed on the top of each tower of 3.5 m high, 2 m wide, and 600 kg in weight.
• The total height of the cathedral to the top of the Cross is 60.5 m.
• There was a bronze statue of Pigneau de Behaine in the flower garden in front of the cathedral.
• The statue was made in France.
• In 1945, the statue was removed.
• In 1959, Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien, whose jurisdiction included Saigon parish.
• The statue arrived in Saigon on 16 February 1959.

Features of Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

Status as a Basilica
• The cathedral was titled Saigon Chief Cathedral.
• In 1962, Vatican anointed the Saigon Chief Cathedral conferred it basilique.
• From this time, this cathedral was called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.

The special architectural style
• Notre-Dame Cathedral has a special neo-Romanesque style of architecture.
• Red bricks were imported from Marseilles.
• Colored glass windows were made in France’s Chartres Province, France.
• Tiles have been carved with the words Guichard Carvin, Marseille St Andre France.
• Some tiles were carved with the words “Wang-Tai Saigon”.
• Many tiles made in Saigon were replaced in the place of the broken tiles caused by war.
• There are 56 glass squares supplied by the Lorin firm of Chartres province in France.
• The cathedral foundation was designed to bear 10 times the weight of the cathedral.
• In front of the cathedral there is a statue of the Virgin Mary.
• The cathedral is of neo-Romanesque architecture.
• The two 58m-high square towers tipped with iron spires dominate the city’s sky line.

Best time to visit / climate

• The city has a tropical climate.
• The year is divided into two distinct seasons.
• The rainy season, with an average rainfall of about 1,800 millimetres .
• It usually begins in May and ends in late November.
• The dry season lasts from December to April.
• The average temperature is 28 °C (82 °F).
• The highest temperature sometimes reaches 39 °C.
• This is around noon in late April.
• The lowest may fall below 16 °C in the early mornings of late December into early January.

Location on Google Maps

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How to To reach there?

1. By Air
• The city is served by Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
• This is the largest airport in Vietnam.
• Long Thanh Airport serves international flights.
• Tan Son Nhat Airport serves domestic flights.

2. By Rail
• Ho Chi Minh City is also a terminal for many Vietnam Railways routes.
• The Reunification Express runs from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi.
• This runs from Saigon Railway Station in District 3.
• The two main stations are Song Than and Sai Gon.
• There are several small stations.
They are:
– Di An
– Thu Duc
– Binh Trieu
– Go Vap

3. By Water
• The city’s location is on the Saigon River.
• This makes it a commercial and passenger port.
• There is a constant stream of cargo ships and passenger boats.
• Traffic between Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam’s southern provinces has increased.
• The Doi and Te Canals are the main routes to the Mekong Delta.
• They receive 100,000 waterway vehicles annually.
• They operate regularly between Ho Chi Minh City and various destinations in Southern Vietnam and Cambodia.
These include:
– Vung Tau
– Can Tho
– Mekong Delta
– Phnom Pen

4. By Coach bus
• Ho Chi Minh City has a number of coach houses.
• There are coach buses to and from several areas in Vietnam.
• The largest coach station is the Mien Dong Coach Station which is in the Binh Thanh District.

Some Travel Books on Vietnam

Vietnam (Country Travel Guide) DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Vietnam and Angkor Wat To Vietnam With Love

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