Notre-Dame & PO HCMC
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica and the Saigon Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
On our first look at the Cathedral we saw traffic on three sides and scaffolding on the other.
We took the Cathedral picture through the gates as it is closed for major renovations.
The lovely, classical nativity scene was a surprise to us.
We contented ourselves taking pictures of posters covering the hoardings that gave a great history of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral with the Metropolitan Building to the left and the Reunification Palace to the right.
Bishop Lefevre laid the first foundation stone of the Saigon Cathedral on the 28th of March 1863 and Bishop Isidore Colombert laid the first stone in an inaugural ceremony on the 7th of October 1877. On Easter Day, the 11th of April 1880 a completion ceremony took place.The name Notre-Dame Cathedral was given after Bishop Pham Van Thien held a ceremony to install the statue of the Peaceful Notre Dame, made with granite from Rome, in 1959.
In 1960, Pope John the twenty-third assigned archbishops to Hanoi, Hue and Saigon which became known as Saigon Chief Cathedral. In 1962, the Pope raised the Cathedral to Basilica so now Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.
In 1895 the two bell towers were built and house six bronze bells in each. To the top of each cross is sixty point five metres.
In October 2005, someone saw Our Lady cry. A tear ran down her right cheek bringing thousands of faithful to the site. Traffic came to a standstill until authorities stopped vehicles from using the immediate area. Clergy could not confirm the incident but that didn’t deter the crowds for several days after.
Our Lady, Bear and the Metropolitan Building was completed in 1997 as a 16-story building with 15,000 square meters of office space. In 2008, the building was awarded “Typical Vietnam Architecture” in the New Era by the Vietnam Association of Architects.
We cross the road to the Post Office. The Saigon Central Post Office (the largest in South Vietnam), together with The Cathedral are the biggest tourist attractions in the city and both are beautiful examples of French colonial architecture. Built between 1886 and 1891, it is a fusion between western architectural style and Oriental decoration. There are many stories about the architect of the Saigon Central Post Office. Some sources say the building was designed by French architect Gustave Eiffel, other sources say the Post Office was designed by architect Villedieu and his assistant Foulhoux. One account says it was first designed and built by Eiffel and 23 years later Villedieu and Foulhoux rebuilt it.
Inside to left and right are lovely painted maps. One depicts Saigon and its surroundings. The other depicts the telegraph lines of South Vietnam and Cambodia, telephone boxes below.
All the windows on both sides of the building are arched, windows in the middle hall are rectangular. Decorative lines around the windows, the wooden counter tops and the general feel made us think railway station, but the wall paintings, old telephone booths, old glue pots for stamps and spaces reserved for writing along with the thirty-eight customer counters definitely make it a post office. President Ho Chi Minh watches all from his painting at the back of this huge space.
Back outside, we look right to the very muted McDonald’s, tiny compared the massive, glass-fronted Diamond Plaza. We bimble back to where we had started to take a picture of the Cathedral garden before Bear tempted me into a Dunkin Donut.
After being very naughty over a Boston (or two) Bear had a Bavaria (or two) we headed back to our digs. The most amazing contrasts in the city highlighted between these two shops next door to each other, the posh frocks next to the local chicken eatery.
Every time we have walked past this chap or his mate on the other side of the doorway, there have been masses of people. Couldn’t help having Bear pose when we found them on their own, I had expected the trigger finger but......
ALL IN ALL A LOVELY BIMBLE
SHAME WE COULDN’T GO INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL BUT LOVELY COLONIAL BUILDINGS