Check out these seven old churches in Saigon, each boasting a unique appearance and aesthetic.
St. Joseph Seminary of Saigon in District 1’s Ton Duc Thang Street was founded by a French priest named Louis Théodore Wibaux in 1863 and construction started the same year.
This is considered the oldest Catholic construction in Saigon and one of the largest Catholic training centers in the country. The first seminary was built around 1863 – 1866 and the chapel, around 1867 – 1871.
Tan Dinh Church in District 3’s Hai Ba Trung Street was built from 1870 – 1876. It attracts tourists with its prominent bright pink exterior, painted in 1957.
The church features Gothic architecture, along with Classical and Baroque detailing.
The nave is painted creamy white, with a high ceiling and two rows of Gothic-styled pillars leading to the main altar made of Italian marble, creating an elegant and solemn atmosphere.
The Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon in District 1’s Cong Xa Paris Street, designed and constructed from 1877 – 1880, is the symbol of Ho Chi Minh City and a must-go destination for tourists coming here.
All construction materials for the cathedral were imported from France. The two sharp roofs on the bell tower were added in 1984, making it easy to recognize from afar.
There are only four original colored glass windows out of 56 left since most were damaged in war-time. The remaining windows were restored in 1949.
Notre-Dame Cathedral bears the title Basilica, awarded by the Vatican to a number of churches or holy sites of special spiritual importance.
Cho Quan Church in District 5’s Tran Binh Trong Street is the oldest in Saigon, built 300 years ago. However, due to several wars, it has been restored many times. The present church, reconstructed in 1882, features Gothic architecture.
Today, the building has only normal glass instead of colored windows like most others in the city since no one could be found to restore the originals.
Chi Hoa Church in Tan Binh District’s Banh Van Tran Street was first built in 1890. The building has a simplified though sophisticated French Gothic style. Initially, its name was Thanh Hoa, changed to Chi Hoa in 1910.
Cha Tam Church in District 5’s Hoc Lac Street was constructed from 1900 – 1902 for the Chinese community in Cho Lon, and utilizes Mandarin during services. The distinctive feature of this church is its Chinese–Gothic style.
Viewed from outside, visitors could mistake the entrance of the church for a temple or a pagoda.
Huyen Sy Church, also known as Cho Dui Church at the corner of District 1’s Ton That Tung – Nguyen Trai streets, was constructed from 1902 – 1905. The church features Gothic architecture. Inside its highest tower, there are four bells casted in France during 1905.
Inside the church is the grave of Huyen Sy, who donated one seventh of his fortune to building the church, which was named after him.
Huyen Sy (1841-1900), born Le Nhut Sy, commonly known as Le Phat Dat, was one of the four richest people in Saigon in the 19th century. He was grandfather of Nam Phuong, wife of Bao Dai, Vietnam’s last king.
In 1920, he and his wife’s tombs were moved to the back of the church.
Photos by Quynh Tran, Tam Linh, Huu Khoa,