Included in the list of 7 famous cathedrals of the capital, St. Joseph Cathedral, with its ancient and solemn architecture, is not only a place of worship for Catholic believers but also an unmissable destination for many tourists. When visiting the cathedral, tourists in Hanoi will have the opportunity to thoroughly explore, capture virtual check-ins, and participate in numerous unforgettable experiences. To learn more about its history, beauty, as well as the engaging activities here, join VnCarRentals.com’s and discover more!
Some information about St. Joseph Cathedral.
If Ho Chi Minh City has Notre-Dame Cathedral, then Hanoi has St. Joseph Cathedral. This is also a construction built by the French, bearing the architectural influence of Indochina with its ancient charm combined with a touch of romance.
Where is St. Joseph Cathedral located?
St. Joseph Cathedral is a shortened name; its official name is the Cathedral of St. Joseph, located at 40 Nha Chung Street, right at the intersection of three streets: Nha Chung, Nha Tho, and Ly Quoc Su, in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. This place is known as one of the first Western-style architectural structures and the oldest Catholic church in the capital city. Today, it remains a place of religious activities, as well as a familiar recreational spot for the residents of the capital city and the surrounding provinces.
Historical origin of St. Joseph Cathedral.
St. Joseph Cathedral was built by the French colonialists on the former site of Bao Thien Pagoda, a temple that existed during the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong. In the 18th century, Bao Thien Pagoda was dismantled and turned into a marketplace for the Dai Viet people. Subsequently, the Catholic Church was granted permission by the authorities to build a church on the site. Initially, a temporary wooden structure was erected. By the end of the 19th century (in 1884), the church was reconstructed with fired bricks, designed and supervised by Bishop Puginier. In 1887, the cathedral was completed, and its dedication ceremony was held on Christmas of that year.
Having gone through various historical ups and downs, St. Joseph Cathedral is considered a “witness” to the changes and development of Hanoi over nearly three centuries. Despite the emergence of many contemporary structures nowadays, this cathedral still leaves the deepest imprint on both local residents and visitors from afar whenever they come to visit Hanoi.
The unique architecture of St. Joseph Cathedral.
Designed in the style of European Gothic architecture from the medieval era, the overall appearance of St. Joseph Cathedral resembles the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, but with a blend of Eastern influences, encompassing both the culture of Christianity and a part of Buddhism.
St. Joseph Cathedral is constructed using fired bricks and papier-mâché, standing at a height of approximately 65 meters, with a width of 21 meters. It features two bell towers that are 31.5 meters tall and four large stone pillars at each corner. At the top of the cathedral, there is a stone crucifix, connected to a system of 5 bells hung in the two towers. Below this is a clock and a statue of a saint.
When viewed from the outside, visitors will notice the cathedral’s curved vaulted roof reaching towards the sky, adorned with numerous windows. However, the details are not as intricate and meticulous as the cathedrals in Europe. Some of the decorative elements within the sanctuary have been adapted with a touch of Vietnamese folklore, including carvings, gold-painted motifs, creating a unique and delicate aesthetic. Layers of aged lime wash stained with mossy hues add to the ancient and subdued ambiance of the cathedral. However, in contrast to this exterior appearance, the interior architecture maintains a modern touch. According to the experiences of some visitors who have explored the cathedral, one can only truly appreciate its grandeur by stepping inside.
Guidelines for visiting St. Joseph Cathedral.
Opening hours of St. Joseph Cathedral.
Although there is no admission fee for visiting, it’s important to note that St. Joseph Cathedral may not always be open for visitors. Typically, the cathedral opens from 8 AM to 11 AM and from 2 PM to 8 PM (Monday to Saturday), and from 7 AM to 11:30 AM and from 3 PM to 9 PM (Sundays).
If you wish to attend a mass, you should arrive early. Masses are held at 5:30 AM and 6:15 PM from Monday to Friday, and at 6 PM on Saturdays. On Sundays, there are more options: 5 AM, 7 AM, 9 AM, 11 AM (in French), 4 PM (for children), 6 PM, and 8 PM (for adults).
Getting to St. Joseph Cathedral.
To reach St. Joseph Cathedral, besides personal transportation such as motorcycles and taxis, you can only walk. The cathedral is located in the Old Quarter on a street where buses are prohibited, so there are no bus routes passing by. Instead, you can take a bus to Hoan Kiem Lake (bus numbers 09, 14, 36) and then walk a bit to reach the cathedral. Take bus number 1 to Trieu Quoc Dat Street or bus number 2 to Trang Thi Street, and then walk along Phu Doan Street to Au Trieu Street, where you will find the cathedral.
Additionally, if you want to visit various other places in Hanoi, finding a means of transportation is essential. #VnCarRentals’s can assist you with this. We provide car rental services with drivers in Hanoi. Our professional drivers will help you move quickly to your desired destinations. During your visit, our drivers will wait for you without any additional charges. With flexible timing and cost-effective rates compared to taxis, renting a private car from #VnCarRentals is a reasonable choice for foreign tourists.
What to do when visiting St. Joseph Cathedral?
If it’s your first time visiting Hanoi, besides the familiar attractions, you must definitely visit St. Joseph Cathedral at least once. While it might not be a bustling entertainment hub, there are many intriguing things awaiting you.
Participate in ceremonies at St. Joseph Cathedral.
If you’re curious about the rituals of a Catholic ceremony, make sure to arrive on time to join a service attended by the local worshippers. Ceremonies such as weddings, baptisms, and Easter celebrations are conducted with utmost reverence, and witnessing them will undoubtedly leave you amazed. Remember to dress neatly, behave respectfully, maintain order, and avoid uttering any remarks that could offend religious beliefs or point at the saints!
Experience the Christmas atmosphere at St. Joseph Cathedral.
Being one of the renowned cathedrals in Hanoi, during Christmas time (December 24th, 25th), St. Joseph Cathedral is beautifully adorned, becoming an ideal Christmas destination for many, especially the youth. Here, you’ll immerse yourself in the festive crowd, admire the decorative caves, Christmas trees, colorful twinkling lights, and embrace a warm and memorable holiday season.
Capture “Instagram-worthy” photos at St. Joseph Cathedral.
With its antique and unique beauty, St. Joseph Cathedral is also a great spot for capturing “Instagram-worthy” photos. Don’t believe it? Just take a look at social media platforms like Facebook, Zalo, and Instagram, and you’ll easily spot selfies of young people checking in here, exuding a Western vibe. A photo by the cathedral serves as evidence that you’ve set foot in the beloved capital city. So, whether it’s a sunny day or a gloomy one, remember to capture that image for yourself!
Explore nearby tourist attractions around St. Joseph Cathedral
Situated in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the heart of the capital, offers plenty of places to combine with your visit. After exploring the cathedral, you can move on to Hoan Kiem Lake, wander through the streets, delve into traditional craft villages, discover the bustling night market in the Old Quarter – a hub of lively activities and delicious street food that’s sure to captivate you.
Especially, the pedestrian street – a well-known weekend entertainment area – just a few hundred meters’ walk from St. Joseph Cathedral, is an unmissable spot. Here, frequent art performances and enjoyable outdoor games take place. Particularly on commemorative days, holidays, or during city events, the street becomes even more bustling and vibrant.
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What delicious dishes are worth trying at St. Joseph Cathedral?
Visiting the cathedral without indulging in the “lemon tea with chit-chat” is a missed opportunity. Sometime or another, the cathedral has become a familiar spot for late-night gatherings of Hanoi’s youth. It’s just a glass of tea with a slice of fresh lemon and a plate of sunflower seeds, yet it has created a unique brand for this area.
But it’s not just about lemon tea; there are also many delicious dishes around the cathedral, such as mixed rice paper, grilled pork sausages, rib porridge, horn-shaped pork ball noodle soup, and more. These are all delicious and rich in Hanoi’s flavors, and the prices are only a few tens of thousands of dong per dish. You can leisurely enjoy the food and have all sorts of conversations under the sky.
Perhaps the name St. Joseph Cathedral is no longer unfamiliar to the residents of the capital city, whether they are followers of the faith or not. For tourists, it always holds a peculiar allure that anyone visiting Hanoi seeks to explore.