A French Religious Relic
From the 1700s all the way to the 1950s, France had a major influence in Vietnam. Unsurprisingly, much of the architecture in Vietnam’s cities harkens back to this colonial past. One of the most famous French buildings in Ho Chi Minh City is the Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, more commonly known as the Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral.
A Piece of Europe in Southeast Asia
The cathedral is in the heart of District 1, in the center of a busy intersection next to the old post office. During the day its pinkish-red brick shines in the sunlight, and at night its two bell towers cast shadows in the streetlights. An historic statue of the Virgin Mary sits in the courtyard outside, and inside, stained glass windows glow against the lofty white walls.
A large Catholic community continues to thrive in Vietnam. The cathedral is still in use, making it difficult to visit on Sundays, as well as during Holy Week and other major Christian holidays. Otherwise, the church is open every day of the week and is free to visit.