Saint Joseph Cathedral, located at 40 Nha Chung street, Hanoi, is a Roman Catholic cathedral with neo- gothic style, which was built about 120 years ago.
St. Joseph's Cathedral Nhà thờ Lớn Hà Nộ; French: Cathédrale Saint-Joseph) is a church on Nha Tho (Church) Street in the Hoàn Kiếm District of Hanoi, Vietnam. Its a late 19th-century Gothic Revival (Neo-Gothic style) church that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi to nearly 4 million Catholics in the country.
In 1882, after the French army conquered Hanoi, the cathedral was constructed and completed in 1886. The cathedral and Nha Chung area were built on the land formerly belonging to Bao Thien pagoda, which was built under Ly dynasty.
Built with stone slabs and in brick with concrete facing, the façade consists of two towers, square in shape, rising to a height of 103 ft (31 m) and each tower fitted with five bells. The cathedral was built in a Gothic Revival (Neo-Gothic) style.
The twin bell towers have often drawn comparisons to the ones at Notre Dame de Paris; the architects of St. Joseph's sought to emulate its Parisian counterpart.
The exterior walls of the church are made of granite stone slabs. Over the years, the cathedral's exterior has become severely worn down due to heavy pollution.
Windows are fitted with tall stained glass and have pointed arches. The cathedral's stained glass windows were produced in France before being transported to Vietnam. The ceiling is rib vaulted like those seen in medieval Europe. The nave is weathered and the sanctuary looks shiny and is made of gilt trimmed wood, similar to that of Phat Diem Cathedral and has royal Hue architectural embellishments.
A statue of Virgin Mary is kept in palanquin according to the local custom, which is seen to the left of the nave. It is at the end of the church street which is an upscale market area with boutiques and silks.
The first Christmas took place in the cathedral in 1887. Since then, the cathedral is always crowded with hundreds of people including both Christians and non-Christians at the weekend or during religious holidays like Christmas.
The cathedral which is also the headquarters of Archdiocese of Vietnam has control over 480 churches and chapels, and 113 parishes, and serves 400,000 Catholics
Today, taking advantage of beautiful architecture and good venue at the center of the city, the area surrounding the cathedral is always packed with hundreds of local people and tourists hanging out with friends for drinking, talking, and watching the street.
Nha Chung Street now becomes the “Lemon Tea” street, a popular gathering place to many youngsters in Hanoi, and home to eye-catching souvenir shops and Western style restaurants.
It is not only the holly place for Christian couples hold their wedding, but also a great venue for non- religious grooms and brides to take nice wedding shots.
How to get there
From Hoan Kiem Lake head to Hang Gai Street, keep going until you reach Ly Quoc Su Street on the left hand side. Walk pass Ly Quoc Su and you will reach Nha Chung – the Cathedral is the connecting point of these two streets.