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Imposing architecture of St. Joseph's Cathedral

Tue, 28 Oct 2014. Last updated Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:45

Located in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, St. Joseph's Cathedral is not only considered one of the most important churches of Catholicism in Vietnam, but also one of the first unique Western religious architecture in Hanoi.

Situated at 40 Nha Chung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, St. Joseph's Cathedral, also known as Hanoi Cathedral is now considered to be one of the symbols of the city and is a must-see tourist spot for those who love to explore impressive architecture in Vietnam travel.  Looking at the history of any structures, it can be easy to recognize the culture and civilization at that period. In Ly Dynasty, with the strong development of Buddhism, temples were built all over Vietnam country. To Nguyen Dynasty, Catholicism is widely developed. Especially, when the French came to Vietnam, they left the mark of their civilization by building numerous churches. The typical architectural works was St. Joseph's Cathedral, which has retained its intact values so far. It also becomes one of the appealing attractions in Hanoi.

St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi

Viewed from outside, St. Joseph's Cathedral is ancient with unique architectural features and moss on the walls. Yet stepping through the big entrance gate inside the church, tourists will witness a modern architectural works which seems not to change with the time. Built in the late nineteenth century, St. Joseph's Cathedral is simulated architecture of Notre-Dame de Paris in France. It can be considered as one of the outstanding architectural works of Catholicism. This is also the product of the intercultural between Buddhist and Catholicism, between the East and the West. The Cathedral now becomes an indispensable tourist spot in Vietnam tour packages for tourists who are interested in exploring unique architectural features. Most tourists taking part in Hanoi travel do not ignore the impressive attraction.

Back alley of St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi

Like numerous other Churches in Vietnam, St. Joseph's Cathedral was localized thanks to the carvings and gilded lacquer deeply inspired by Vietnam folklore. Building materials of the Cathedral was terracotta tiles, the walls were plastered with pasteboard. Yet the structural elements were still built in the medieval Gothic architectural style. The Cathedral was designed and under construction by the Bishop Puginier. This was a typical church strongly affected by Gothic architecture with wide curved arches pointing at the sky. This style was most strongly developed in Europe in the 13th century. Gothic architectural style was seen as a gigantic step and the pinnacle of construction science and technology at that time. St. Joseph's Cathedral was clearly characterized of this architecture with high walls and arches retaining the large number of windows.

Stained glass in St. Joseph Cathedral

There are a large entrance door in the middle of the church and two smaller doorways on either sides of the bell tower. The doors and windows were domed arches in combination with the pictures of saints in eye-catching and harmonious stained glasses create the natural light right inside the Cathedral. The chancel was decorated in a traditional folk art and carved with sophisticated and unique wooden motifs. Right at the center of the sanctuary area is a terracotta statue of St. Joseph with the height of more than 2m. The chancel is one of special highlights in the overall architecture of St. Joseph Cathedral which strongly attracts tourists when participating in Hanoi travel. The Cathedral also owns a set of Western bells including four small bells and a big one. Especially, the most prominent feature is the big clock mounted at the front of the Cathedral. The alarm system of the clock is linked with 5 bells hung on two towers. The center of Square in front of the Cathedral is the statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help made of metal. Surroundings of the Cathedral is procession route, parterre and a small stone cave behind. Overall architecture built in harmony with the landscapes makes the Cathedral have strong appeal for tourists participating in Vietnam tours to Hanoi.

Inside St. Joseph Cathedral

Over time, Hanoi citizens have been familiar and considered St. Joseph Cathedral as a new cultural symbol of the city. It will be a deficiency if not mentioning the influence of French culture reflected in Hanoi culture today, nor ignore the ancient French villas when referring the architecture of the capital. Immersing in the flow, St. Joseph has become an inseparable part of Hanoi. It has become a familiar address not only with Hanoi citizens but all tourists wishing to explore the typical architectural features in Vietnam culture. St.Joseph Cathedral thus contributes to promote Vietnam tourism in general and Hanoi tourism in particular to international friends.

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