Ho Chi Minh City is the capital of Vietnam and is also the largest city in the country. It was previously known as Saigon and many people, local and foreign, still refer to it by the old name. The city is always buzzing with activity and is full of excitement. There are plenty of historically and culturally important places to visit, including the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum and the Notre Dam cathedral.
The Notre Dam Cathedral (it is officially known as the Notre Dam Basilica) in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City was built by the French in the late 1800’s. With its classic Roman and Gothic architecture, the cathedral seems quite out of place right at the heart of the bustling Ho Chi Minh City. The Notre Dam Cathedral actually started off as the Saigon Church, a small wooden structure built in 1863 by French colonists. However, the Saigon Church became the victim of a termite infestation and a contest was held for the design of a new church. The contest was won by French architect J Bourad and construction on the cathedral began in 1877. Construction ended three years later in 1880, coinciding with Easter Sunday.
The Notre Dam Basilica is located northeast of the Reunification Palace. The magnificent structure can be easily identified thanks to the two bell towers, which are over one hundred and ninety feet tall. Although the twin bell towers, which contain six bronze bells, were added more than a decade after the church was built, they have come to be its most recognisable feature. All the material that was used to build the basilica was imported from France. The coloured glass used to make the windows was imported from the Chartes Province while the red bricks were brought over from Marseilles. While many of the original tiles have been damaged over time and have been replaced, one can still find tiles with the name of their French manufacturer carved into them. Services are held here in both Vietnamese and English, and those who wish to attend Sunday Mass should arrive at the church before 9.30 am.
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