Many a tourist will walk around this area during their visit to Ho Chi Minh. On one side there are attractions such as the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace. On the other side is the more corporate side of Ho Chi Minh, with its shopping malls and banks surrounding walking street. Saigon’s Óur Lady’Basilica stands up as the centerpiece for this area.
This cathedral was originally constructed in 1880 using bricks from Toulouse, France. It was a place allocated for French settlers who wanted to attend Catholic service. It is a Neo-Romanesque style that dominates the exterior. Bricks and screws were imported from France. Modern-day renovation uses bricks with a similar style and color. This creates an orange-pink complexion to the look of the cathedral.
The current location is at a different place from the first cathedral built in Ho Chi Minh, which was called Saigon Church. Parts of the exterior to look out for are the bell towers at the front, which surround the clock that is above the entrance and the multi-compartmental rear of the Cathedral. There is a book street to the left of the Cathedral for those who would like to take time to rest after visiting the Cathedral. The street sells a variety of books and there are a couple of food stalls and coffee shops located here.
The entrance to the Cathedral is at the main gate or at a doorway to the left of the main gate. The seating area is traditional wooden benches used in Cathedrals across Europe sitting on top of a beautifully tiled floor. The cathedral is styled and constructed on the same construction as the Notre-Dame in Paris, with the interior showing the glorious Catholic design in pure symmetry. If people want to visit, it is possible most days. Sunday Mass is the best time to visit, though it can get very crowded during this time.
This notorious catholic monument has changed names over the years, based on religious grants and blessings. After first being labeled as the state cathedral, the arrival of the statue of Mary and the message Notre-Dame bless the peace to Vietnam, it was called Notre-Dame Cathedral. In 1960, the Pope created dioceses in Vietnam. This led to the new name, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
In 1959 a statue of Our Mary of Peace was made and presented to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. It was sculpted from Roman granite and sent it to Vietnam. It was titled Regina Pacis. The statue attracted thousands of visitors in 2005 when some witnesses had mentioned they had seen Mary cry from her left tear duct.
The Cathedral is a definite must-see attraction in Ho Chi Minh and one to be seen by all visitors.