Notre Dame Cathedral – A must-see in your Ho Chi Minh city tour

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, also known as Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica or Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is a symbol and one of the most famous Saigon attractions in Vietnam's financial capital.

Address: No. 1 Cong Truong Cong xa Paris St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 8am-11am & 2pm-4pm daily 
Weekday Mass: 5.30am & 5.30pm
Every Sunday: 5.30am; 6.45am; 8am; 9.30am (mass in English); 4pm; 5.30pm; 6.30pm 
Entrance fee: free



This cathedral's history begins with the French conquest in the late nineteenth century. At the time, the French government desired a large church to serve a community as well as religious services for French colonialists. Because the first church on Ngo Duc Ke Street was too small, French Admiral Bonard decided to construct a larger structure. The construction began on March 28th, 1863.

The French added two bell towers to the cathedral in 1895, each 57.6 meters high. Around the towers, there are six smaller bronze bells. On top of each tower, crosses were installed. Each one is 3.5 m tall, 2 m wide, and weighs 600 kg. At the moment, the building's height from root to top is 60.5 meters.

The French also erected a bronze statue of Pigneau de Behaine (also known as the Bishop of Adran) leading Prince Canh, Emperor Gia Long's eldest son. The statue was located in front of the church. The statue was destroyed in 1945, but the base of the statue remained.

Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien of Rome commissioned a statue of Our Lady of Peace in 1959. He arranged a ceremony to place the statue on an empty foundation on February 6, 1959. The ceremony for the statue was formally convened the next morning by Cardinal Agagianian of Rome, and the cathedral was thus named Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Pope John XXIII established Roman Catholic dioceses in Vietnam in 1960, and the cathedral was given the title of Saigon Chief Cathedral. He blessed the Saigon Chief Cathedral and elevated it to the status of a basilica in 1962. This cathedral was known as Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica at the time.

What makes Notre Dame Cathedral special?


The neo-Romanesque architectural style has had an impact on Notre-Dame Cathedral. Romanesque Revival (or Neo-Romanesque) is a mid-nineteenth-century architectural style inspired by 11th- and 12th-century Romanesque buildings. This style's structures tended to have simpler arches and windows than their older counterparts.

Moreover, all construction materials, including cement, steel, and screws, were imported from France during the construction phase. The building's exterior was constructed of Marseille-made bricks. It's bare, with no plastering or moss dust, and it's still a vivid pink color. Lorin of Chartres Province (France) produced 56 stained-glass windows for the cathedral.


The cathedral's foundation was built to support ten times the weight of the complete construction of the church above it. And, unlike many of the churches in the Saigon-GiaDinh area at the time, the church did not have a fence or a wall.

The cathedral's interior is divided into two rectangular main rows, with six apostles on each side. The Sacred Palace's altar is composed of monolithic marble with six angels carved into the stone, and the pedestal is divided into three compartments, each with a relics sculpture. 56 glass doors showing Bible people or events, 31 round rose paintings, and 25 multi-colored cow eye windows with lovely graphics adorn the walls. However, only four of the 56 glass doors are intact, while other stained-glass windows were remodeled in 1949 to replace the church's original stained-glass doors, which were destroyed during World War II.


The interior of the cathedral is electrically lit (without candles) at night, as soon as it is opened. During the day, the cathedral's interior, with its perfect light-blending design, creates a soft light, a sense of security, and holiness.

Bell towers

Originally, the two bell towers stood 36.6 meters tall, lacked a roof, and had only a 40-centimeter-wide staircase. The interiors are dark, and the floor is strewn with small pieces of wood. In 1895, the cathedral added two more rooftops to cover the 21-meter-high bell tower designed by architect Gardes, for a total height of 57 meters. The two bell towers are adorned with all six bells. This bell was manufactured in France and shipped to Saigon in 1879.

The clock

Between the two bell towers is a large clock. It weighed one ton and was manufactured in 1887. It's quite old, but it still works. A small square in front of the church has four paths that form a cross.

The square in front of the church

Paris Commune Square is a small square in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 that is bounded by Notre Dame Cathedral and Nguyen Du Street. This is also where the famous Dong Khoi Street begins.

A statue of Our Lady of Peace stands in the center of the square (or Queen of Peace). G. Ciocchetti, a sculptor, created the statue in 1959. The statue stands 4.6 meters tall and weighs 8 tons. It is made of Italian white granite. It is not polished because it is carved to be seen from afar.

A cavity was carved into the foot of the statue, including a silver box containing prayers for peace in Vietnam and around the world, at the foot of the stone pedestal. The prayers were written in a variety of materials, including gold, silver, tin, aluminum, paper, leather, and copper, and were sent from all over Vietnam, including the northern provinces.


Over the course of centuries, this masterpiece has always made visitors feel magnificent, solemn, close, and amazed. For the locals, this will always be a sacred place in their hearts. Because of its long history, Notre-Dame Cathedral is always considered a stop for people seeking old beauties and calmness, as well as one of the most well-known attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

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