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A cathedral worth visiting

How many times have you careered past it on your way to work or a cafe date with friends and thought ‘wow’ as you gazed at the splendid architecture for a brief few seconds before continuing toward your destination?

Or maybe you gawked at the numerous tourists heading towards it and thought ‘maybe another time’. We are all guilty of it, myself included. In fact after almost a year as a Saigon native this was the first time I had been inside the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, sometimes referred to as Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica. Although I had taken a few customary photos of the Virgin Mary statue, mere yards away.

And after finally making it, I can assure you it is worth a quick look whether you are Catholic, Buddhist or Hindu.

Just don’t open your mouth, though, as the deathly quietness all adds to the aura of this magnificent creation. Keep your eyes open, though, it is one of those moments when you think of how men constructed this monument with their bare hands, creating a piece of history.


There is holy water for those wishing to bless themselves but all faiths are welcome to pray or merely take in the Roman style interior with Gothic elements. The cathedral was designed by French colonists and constructed between 1863 and 1880 using materials from France and it has two distinctive bell towers which reach a height of 58 meters.Just be thankful that they don’t chime when you are inside.

Across the grass verge from the cathedral stands the Virgin Mary statue which was made with granite in Rome and exported to Saigon in 1959.

So instead of walking, driving or cycling past, stop and go inside. It will only take you five minutes and is that too much to ask for a glimpse into an important piece of Saigon’s history.



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