Situated in central Ho Chi Minh, this magnificent cathedral is a lasting reminder of the city's 19th-century French occupation.
Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Cathedral with its neo-Romanesque architecture proudly dominates the Vietnamese city's skyline. Along with French colonisation came Catholicism, and with Catholicism came the need for a cathedral. Work began in 1880 and took quite a few years to complete, with all bricks, tiles and windows being imported all the way from France.
In 1962, the Vatican officially anointed the cathedral as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Today, however, it is simply known as Notre Dame Cathedral and is still used as a place of Catholic worship with services every weekend.
Whether you are religious or not, a visit to one of Vietnam's most famous landmarks is an important part of any trip to Ho Chi Minh. Beautifully landscaped green areas and park benches line the streets approaching the cathedral. Admire the colourful Gothic and Roman-style architecture as you explore the exterior of the building. It is hard to miss the two 60-metre bell towers but, for the best photographs of the entire cathedral, head to the main entrance which you'll find opposite a small park. In this park in 2005, a statue of the Virgin Mary was said to have miraculously shed tears; although the Roman Catholic Church never confirmed this, it was reportedly witnessed by many.
To enter the cathedral, take the side door as the front entrance is only opened for Sunday services. Once inside, you can absorb the sacred atmosphere and peaceful surroundings, a welcome reprieve from the sometimes maniacal hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.
Situated right in the heart of the city, you will find the Notre Dame Cathedral opposite the Saigon Central Post Office, another of Vietnam's famous landmarks. If you would like to attend mass in the cathedral, Sunday services are offered in both English and Vietnamese and tourists are welcome to attend both. Otherwise, the cathedral is open every day.