In the list of seven famous churches in Hanoi voted by a number of newspapers, Hanoi St. Joseph’s Cathedral always tops the list. Because this is one of the oldest works of the capital but still has full of ancient aristocratic appearance, as well as unique features, typical in architecture that was once a symbol of Hanoi.
When the French occupied Hanoi, the Cathedral was built in 1884 and inaugurated right on Christmas Day 1887. This is one of the first Western architectural works built in Hanoi.
The original name of the Cathedral was the Church of St. Joseph (Saint Joseph) because Pope Innocentinus XI once named St. Joseph the patron saint of Vietnam and neighboring countries. Therefore, this largest cathedral in Hanoi is honored as “St. Joseph’s Basilica” and is the Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of Hanoi.
Hanoi St. Joseph’s Cathedral is one of the architectural works that have a strange attraction for any visitor when coming to Hanoi, because of its unique and “charm” in architecture.
The church is designed in the style of medieval European Gothic architecture (prevailing in the 12th century and the Renaissance), simulating Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with its wide, curved arches facing the sky.
The main building materials of the church are terracotta bricks, plastered walls of mulch paper. The church is 64.5m long, 20.5m wide and two 31.5m high bell towers with large stone pillars weighing four corners. On the top is a stone cross.
Outside, the church looks very old with old layers of lime, moss, clearly visible dust layers of three centuries. But in contrast to that ancient, mossy feature, when stepping through the large door to the inside of the church, visitors will be surprised when witnessing the magnificent architectural features that have not been changed but paralleled with time.
In the hall in the church, there is a large door, two small doors on both sides of the tower. The doors and all the windows are curled up, combined with the harmonious stained-glass Saint paintings create a magical source of natural light inside the Church.
The unique difference is that the sanctuary is decorated in traditional folk art, engraved with wood patterns painted with gold, very delicate. In the main room, there is a terracotta statue of St. Joseph with a height of over 2m.
The church also has a set of western bells, including four small bells and one large bell. Especially the large clock mounted in the front of the church. The clock has an alarm, a bell system linked to five bells hanging on the two towers.
The large chapel inside has about 30 rows of wooden chairs lined up. On weekdays, the church has two Masses, and on Sundays, there are seven.
Adding a special feature attracting visitors to the Hanoi St. Joseph’s Cathedral, associated with the “specialty” of the capital, has created a very own brand of Ha Noi people that is “church lemon tea.”
Area Nha Tho Street has become a familiar place for Ha Noi teenagers because with just a glass of iced tea, overlooking the church, visitors can enjoy a relaxed and comfortable feeling in a space “ unique ‘to the Capital.
The space around the church is surrounded by ancient French architectural houses. Therefore, this is also an ideal place for couples to choose as the place for wedding photography, making an important mark in their life.