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Duc Ba Cathedral: One of the four basilicas in Vietnam


A basilica is the special honor title given to certain churches or sanctuaries in Rome or around the world, in terms of its antiquity, historical importance, and spiritual significance. Among nearly 6,000 churches across Vietnam, there are only 4 churches that are recognized as basilicas. There are 4 churches located in Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Tri, Nam Dinh, and Ha Nam including Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon, La Vang church, Phu Nhai church and Ke So church. Duc Ba Cathedral, known as Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is one of them.

Duc ba catherdal in the everning
Duc ba catherdal in the everning – Source: Internet

General information

Address: No.1 Cong Xa Paris St, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral is a short name for Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon. People usually call it the name Duc Ba church/Duc Ba Cathedral. 

The church has a total length of 91m, a width of 35.5m, the main dome is 21m high and the two bell towers on both sides are nearly 57m high. The architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral is bold in ancient French architecture, built according to the project of architect J. Bourard. With a large and airy space from outside to inside, the cathedral is a symbol of Saigon, a tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists when arriving in the city named after Uncle Ho.

History of Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon

As one of the outstanding religious architectures in the center of Saigon but not many people know clearly about the history of Notre Dame Cathedra
As one of the outstanding religious architectures in the center of Saigon but not many people know clearly about the history of Notre Dame Cathedra – Source: Internet

As one of the outstanding religious architectures in the center of Saigon but not many people know clearly about the history of Notre Dame Cathedral. According to the introduction of Notre Dame Cathedral, this construction was started in 1877, completed in 1880, designed and supervised by architect J. Bourad.

On 11th, April 1880, the dedication and inauguration ceremony of the church in District 1 was organized by the late Colombet in the presence of the Governor of Cochinchina, Le Myre de Villers. Because the funds for construction were from the French with the total amount at that time amounted to 2,500,000 francs, at first this cathedral was named the State Church which means being built and managed by the French State.

After, the cathedral was renamed Notre Dame Cathedral. The official name is Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica. The cathedral was conferred basilica in 1962.

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Some features of Duc Ba Cathedral

After more than a century of construction, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is still a destination chosen by many tourists when coming to Ho Chi Minh City. This unique architectural work owns many bright spots to attract visitors such as:

The main cathedral

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon is a specially designed cathedral with the ability to withstand 10 times the entire architecture of the building. The interior of the church is designed with 1 main heart, 2 side rooms, 2 chapels. The whole cathedral has a length of 93m, the widest up to 35m and the dome height is 21m. With this area, Notre Dame Cathedral inside the cathedral can accommodate up to 1,200 people.

Duc ba Church inside
Duc ba Church inside – Source: Internet

Duc Ba Cathedral’s Bell Tower

The Bell Tower is likened to the soul of Duc Ba Cathedral. At first, the building only had 2 bell towers 36.6m high, without a roof. But in 1895, the cathedral built two more spires to cover the steeple with a height of 21m. Thus, the total design of the bell tower is 57m high. After that, the work hung 6 more bells including 6 music notes, hung on 2 bell towers. Each bell has a delicate pattern on the face.

​​The altar areas

The altars here are delicately carved with monolithic marble materials. 56 multi-colored glass windows are stitched together to form an impressive image. All the lines, edges and patterns of the altar area are in Roman and Gothic style, both dignified and elegant.

The park outside the cathedral

The park outside the church is one of the favorite places for people to check in. The center of the campus in front of the cathedral is the statue of Our Lady of Peace sculpted by G.Ciocchetti in 1959. The statue is 4.6m high, weighs 8 tons, made of white Italian marble.

Some other highlights of the architecture

Bronze statue of Pigneau de Béhaine: Cast by the French in 1903. The character of the statue is Bishop Pigneau de Béhaine (Bishop of Ba Da). He brought a boy – Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh (son of King Gia Long). This is considered a symbol of the harmony between Catholicism and the Nguyen Dynasty at that time. In 1945, the statue was demolished, leaving only the marble pedestal.

Statue of Our Lady of Peace: After a period of vacating the marble pedestal, in 1958, priest Joseph Pham Van Thien ordered the sculptor G.Ciocchetti to sculpt the statue of Our Lady of Peace (in Italian Carrara stone) to place. here. The Statue of Our Lady is in an upright position, holding a globe in her hand, on the globe is a cross. Our Lady’s eyes look up to heaven as if praying for peace for the people of Vietnam.

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Opening hours of Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City

Duc Ba Catherdal from the back
Duc Ba Catherdal from the back – Source: Internet

From Monday to Saturday: 5:30 am; 17:30

Sunday: the hours include: 5:30; 6:45 am; 8:00 am; 9:30 am (mass in English); 16h00; 17:15; 6:30 p.m.

Specifically, according to the calendar of Notre Dame Cathedral, on weekdays, the church will have 2 Masses, 1 Mass starting at 5:30 am and 1-afternoon mass at 17:30. On Sunday alone, there will be 7 Masses, taking place at 5:30 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m. (mass in English), 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.

Some attractions place near Duc Ba Cathedral

After visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, you can visit other famous places in the area such as: Independence Palace; Turtle Lake; Vietnam History Museum; Bitexco Financial Tower; “Check-in in the cloud” at Landmark 81; Nguyen Hue Walking Street; Ben Thanh market.

Notre Dame Cathedral is an attractive tourist destination in Ho Chi Minh City that you should visit. This church is not only a famous architectural construction of art but also a witness to the history of Saigon, having witnessed many changes, changes and development in this young city. Therefore, this place always attracts millions of domestic and foreign tourists every year.

Nowadays, Duc Ba Cathedral is restored and in 2025, the progress will be finished. Because, Duc Ba Cathedral is a famous architectural construction and the symbol of Ho Chi Minh City so the repair adheres to the principle of meticulousness and prudence.

This is a unique architectural work from the French colonial period designed by architect J. Bourard. All construction materials from cement, steel to screws are brought from France. The exterior of the cathedral is built from bricks made in Marseille. All of the exteriors are bare, not plastered, not dusty so still bright pink. Unlike other churches in Ho Chi Minh City, Notre Dame Cathedral does not have a fence or wall around. 

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