Hanoi Main Cathedral
A French architectural highlight in the heart of Hanoi
Hanoi Main Cathedral is a beautiful symbol of French architecture in the heart of the capital city.
If you are a big fan of classical European architectural design, Hanoi Main Cathedral, located in the heart of the capital, is a not-to-miss destination. The Cathedral is not only a famous address for sightseeing but also a pilgrimage destination for Catholics.
Hanoi Cathedral, also widely known under an official name St. Joseph’s Cathedral, is the main Cathedral of the Hanoi Archdiocese. It’s one of the earliest Christian building constructed in Hanoi as well as the most spectacular and memorable French church architecture.
The “birth” of a famous French architecture symbol in Hanoi
The land occupied by Hanoi Main Cathedral today once belonged to the Bao Thien Pagoda. However, due to many unfortunate incidents and the ups and downs of history, the pagoda became abandoned and ruined.
In 1873, after the French took over the capital for the first time, the abandoned Bao Thien pagoda was entrusted to the Bishop of Puginier by the French. The Bishop had temporarily set up several wooden houses to make it a resting and working place.
In 1883, after the second invasion of French into the capital city, the Northern Governor Raoul Bonnal asked Governor Nguyen Huu Do to entrust this old pagoda to Bishop Puginier. Afterwards, the Bishop started to construct and transform the pagoda into the Hanoi Cathedral today.
Because of the formation process of Hanoi Cathedral, its impressive architecture is subjected to European classical style, especially French. Inaugurated in 1887 and situated at the centre of the city, the Cathedral remained deserted due to the not-so-developed nature of the surrounding area at that time.
It was not until 1890 and the appearance of the Cathedral Street that the church has occupied a favourable and indispensable position in the urban space of Hanoi.
The breathtaking and magnificent French architecture of Hanoi Main Cathedral
Tourists will find themselves utter in astonishment at the gorgeous classical Gothic architectural style, which perfectly imitated the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The Cathedral has also made an unforgettable impress on onlookers with its delicate convergence between the oriental architecture and sophisticated touch of Christian and Buddhism cultures.
The typical architectural style of the Cathedral of Hanoi is the medieval Gothic European style, considered the pinnacle of construction science and technology and was very popular in the 12th century and the European Renaissance.
The church has a length of 64.5m, a width of 20.5m and two bell towers of 31.5m high with massive stone pillars at four corners, together with a stone cross at the top. The interior fills with natural light from Gothique art doors and windows decorated with beautiful and harmonious stained glass paintings. The sanctuary at the centre of the Cathedral stands out with delicate carved wooden patterns in a bright golden colour.
The church also owns a set of Western bells, including four small bells and a big bell, worth a massive fortune at that time. Especially a large clock attached to the facade of the church links to the five bells hanging on two towers.
When entering Hanoi Main Cathedral during the day, visitors will find themselves immersed in the natural space filled with dazzling light coming through the stained glass paintings on each window. Moreover, visitors even have the opportunity to admire the two-meter statue of St. Joseph by terracotta in the central area.
This area is twice as wide as the surrounding parts and holds religious ceremonies only. The windows on both side sparkle with sophisticated stained glass and divide into three groups – high in the middle and low on the sides to create a continuous rhythm. In front of the church is a small square with the statue of Our Lady, adding to the landscape value of the architecture.