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Nhà Thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn (Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

By on September 13, 2015 in Vietnam

First day exploring Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

The train journey to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on the Reunification Express, was a great experience. A fantastic way to experience Vietnam.

First stop on my walk around Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) was the Nhà Thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn (Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica).  Stunning looking building, and its appearance was a real surprise.  I just wasn’t expecting it.  I had seen a lot of church spires on the train down from Hanoi,but this was my first opportunity to get up close and personal with a church (OK, basilica) in Vietnam.

Nhà Thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn (Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica) is a great looking building and one that is clearly still in use and part of life in HCMC.  However, it was a little odd, and I have observed this in a number of churches and cathedrals I have visited in SE Asia, there was no obvious evidence of the colonial past in the building. There were some plaques in the side chapels, but I don’t know if they are memorials or plaques of thanks.  Actually, I was lucky to get in to see the interior as the cathedral closed after the worshippers had left the service.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

The basilica did seem to be very popular with wedding parties. However, not so much for wedding ceremonies but more as a backdrop to their wedding photos.

In fact, I saw a number of brides and grooms having their photographs taken around the basilica.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

It also looks like the number of the “happy couples” recall the occasion of their photo shoot with some graffiti on the outside wall of the basilica.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

The interior of the basilica was stunning. It was very well maintained, and the basilica is obviously still in regular use as a place of worship. There were some very pretty stained glass windows, although I wasn’t really sold on the use of neon in some places…

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

The basilica is certainly a grand place, with a wide central aisle leading up to the altar.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

What I did find interesting was the number of small dedication plaques in the side chapels. The plaques had a very French feel to them and were the only sign in the basilica of the colonial past.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

Also, the plaques weren’t that particularly old, so it is clearly still a process that is ongoing.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

More of the plaques… If anyone can explain to me the true meaning of these plaques, then please leave a comment below.

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

Again with the neon. Is this really necessary in a basilica?

Saigon Notre Dame Basilica

I found Nhà Thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn (Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica) in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to be a really interesting place, and I would recommend a visit to the building to anyone coming to HCMC for the first time. In addition, there is also a very nice park nearby to explore, the Saigon Central Post Office (another interesting building) is just next door, and the Dinh Thống Nhất (Independence Palace / Reunification Palace) is just up the road.

Foursquare: Nhà Thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn (Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica)

 

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
 

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