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st. joseph's cathedral

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi: Find the allure of 19th-century architecture

25/03/2023 667 views

St. Joseph’s Cathedral has witnessed the many ups and downs of Hanoi, resulting in its high values in terms of history, architecture, and culture. Read more about it before you come here!

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

St. Joseph’s Cathedral is an alluring tourist attraction in Hanoi (Source: Collected)

Hanoi Vietnam has many tourist attractions right in the downtown area, among which St. Joseph’s Cathedral is a highly recommended site to visitors. The cathedral has a long history and unique architecture, which will help you understand a part of Vietnamese history, culture, and religion. The cathedral is located in the heart of Hanoi, where you will have lots of things to do on your Vietnam trip.

1. About St. Joseph’s Cathedral Vietnam

St. Joseph’s Cathedral is situated at the junction of Nha Chung, Ly Quoc Su and Nha Tho streets, which is a popular tourist destination and common hangout spot for locals as well.

Opening hours: 

  • 8 – 11 am and 2 – 8 pm, Mon – Sat
  • 7 – 11:30 am and 3 – 9 pm, Sun

1.1. The long history of the cathedral

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi is an important historical witness in the capital (Source: Collected)

St. Joseph’s Cathedral has been the main meeting place of the Archdiocese of Hanoi, which often hosts the activities of local parishes. The site has been a magnet to both locals and visitors because of not only its religious importance but also its architectural and historical features.

Built in the French colonial period, St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi is a typical example of colonial architectural works in the capital. It resembles the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

At the location of St. Joseph’s Cathedral before it was built, there used to be a Buddist pagoda. At the end of the 18th century, the pagoda was demolished and its grounds were used to set up a market. Then, the cathedral was built at the site, initially of wood. In 1884, it was rebuilt with baked clay, its construction completed on Christmas in 1888.

The cathedral’s official name is Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, yet the people of Hanoi often call it the Grand Cathedral. It has witnessed many ups and downs of the city in the past three centuries. Along with many special architectural works built in the city since then, the Cathedral is a highlight on the tourist map which visitors should not miss out on.

1.2. The unique architecture of the cathedral

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

St. Joseph’s Cathedral was designed with a French Gothic style (Source: Collected)

The cathedral is measured nearly 65 metres in length and over 20 metres in width, its two bell towers reaching the height of over 31 metres. The cathedral was designed in a Gothic style with a symmetrical layout. It has two bell towers with five storeys, which stand on both sides of a middle block with 3 storeys. The block is topped with a huge cross.

A statue of Mother Maria is installed in the square in front of the cathedral. All the main doors and windows of the cathedral have an upward arch shape. There are 5 bells connected to a clockwork system to ring every hour. Inside, the main hall has 5 sections for mass gathering, which is decorated by colourful glass windows and paintings of the saints.

Beside the Gothic style, the cathedral’s architecture also has some features of the Vietnamese style. Baked clay bricks, traditional red tiles, and pasteboard walls make the frame of the building. Worship altars are decorated with red and golden gilded wood, which is popular in traditional Vietnamese temples.

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

Inside St. Joseph’s Cathedral, you can see some features of the Vietnamese style of decoration (Source: Collected)

With so many special features, the cathedral stands as a tranquil place right at the heart of the bustling Old Quarter.

2. Guide to visit St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi

In Hanoi, all roads lead to Hoan Kiem Lake. So, whether your visit is long or short, you should stay for a while and visit St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

2.1. St Joseph Cathedral Hanoi mass schedule

This Hanoi Cathedral is open to the public for free every day, except from 8 – 11 am and 1 – 5 pm on Sundays.

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

Note the opening hours of the cathedral before you come (Source: Collected)

In the meantime, it is open for religious ceremonies at 5:30 am and 6:15 pm (Mon – Fri); 5:30 am and 6 pm (Sat). For mass ceremonies, it is open at 5 am, 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 4 pm, 6 pm, and 8 pm. Joining a ceremony is an interesting experience that you should try, especially if you are not a Christian. At a ceremony, you should wear non-revealing clothes and keep your voice down.

2.2. St Joseph Cathedral Hanoi directions

There are many means of transportation for you to go to St. Joseph’s Cathedral. You can drive your own vehicle (motorbike or bicycle) or take a cyclo or a taxi. You can also take a bus that stops nearby and then walk to the cathedral.

  • Buses No. 9, 14 and 36 stop at Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Buses No. 1 stop on Trieu Quoc Dat Street
  • Buses No. 2 stop on Trang Thi Street

3. Things to do on your trip to St. Joseph’s Cathedral

A tour to St. Joseph’s Cathedral will be very exciting if you combine several things to do in the vicinity.

3.1. Participate in ceremonies held at this Hanoi Cathedral

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

A ceremony at St. Joseph’s Cathedral (Source: Collected)

As mentioned above, contemplating the cathedral’s architecture and joining in a ceremony will be more than enough for you to learn about Christianity in Vietnam and the local history as well. Watching the solemn ceremonies, you will see how serious the local Christians are regarding their belief. Make sure to pay attention and keep your voice down during the ceremonies.

3.2. Immerse yourself in the Christmas atmosphere in December

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

Christmas is a wonderful festive occasion here (Source: Collected)

Christmas will be a bustling time at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. The winter atmosphere will be warmed up with colourful lights, a big Christmas tree in the square, and various flowers and Christmas wreaths on the doors of the cathedral. Here, whether you are a Christian or not, you should stop by and make some wishes for yourself and your loved ones.

3.3. Take stunning photos in front of this Hanoi Cathedral

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

Fill your social account with many photos at St. Joseph’s Cathedral (Source: Collected)

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Vietnam is a masterpiece of Hanoi French colonial architecture. It is an excellent spot for you to take photos and capture many memorable moments. Searching around social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Zalo, Tiktok, you will see many photos taken here. The cathedral will be a wonderful background for your pictures at any time of the year.

3.4. Sit on pavements around the cathedral and enjoy street foods

The area around St. Joseph’s Cathedral is one of the best places to try street foods in Hanoi. Don’t hesitate to take a seat on the pavements around the cathedral to try various drinks and dishes. Check them out:

  • Lime tea

A simple glass of lime tea at a nearby shop can make a memorable afternoon for you. The locals often come here with friends to chat while enjoying the drink, along with a plate of roasted sunflower seeds.

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

This simple drink is incredibly tasty (Source: Collected)

  • Grilled fermented pork rolls

A few hundred metres away from the cathedral, at No. 10 Au Trieu Street, you can find a shop offering grilled fermented pork rolls. The rolls are roasted on burned coal.

  • Vermicelli with pork and Indian taro

You can find an old woman selling this dish on the pavement of Hang Trong Street nearby. The vermicelli is served with slightly sour broth, chopped Indian taro, minced pork paste, pork leg, and mushrooms. This delicious dish is sold at a surprisingly cheap price.

  • Dumplings
St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

The hot dumplings will warm up your walking tour (Source: Collected)

You can try many kinds of dumplings and fried spring rolls at No. 52 Ly Quoc Su Street, which is a short distance away from the cathedral. These dishes are even better in winter, as the hot dumplings will warm you up.

  • Traditional Pho (beef/chicken noodles)

A visit to the St. Joseph Cathedral will not be perfect without trying this Vietnamese traditional noodle dish. There are several shops offering pho, such as the ones at No 10 Ly Quoc Su Street and No. 40 Au Trieu Street, which are both very close to the cathedral.

3.5. Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street nearby

Hoan Kiem Lake will be a highly recommended attraction for walking visitors near St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi. Around the lake, there are various relic sites such as Ngoc Son Temple, But Tower, Monument of King Le, Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square, and the Old Quarter. Visiting these places, you can learn about the culture, history, and lifestyle of Vietnamese people.

  • Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple is a popular religious destination at Hoan Kiem Lake. The temple is situated on a small islet on the lake. According to the steles found at the site, the temple was built in 1841 and renovated in 1865. Here, there are various unique architectural works that date back a long time ago, such as the But Tower with its Nghien Platform.

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple is a must-visit place on your St. Joseph’s Cathedral map of tourism (Source: Collected)

  • Monument of King Le

The Monument of King Le is situated to the west of the lake. Here, there is a statue of the King standing on a big platform, which holds a sword pointing to the lake. The statue is a reminder of the legend about the King returning the magic sword to the holy turtle, which symbolises the nation’s wish for peace.

  • The Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter is commonly referred to as the “36 Old Streets”. This area of Hanoi boasts French colonial architecture, a thriving culinary scene, and a long history. The streets are full of scooters, food carts, cyclists, and pedestrians. Walking through these streets and alleyways is the best way to feel the spirit of this historic city.

Notably, at weekends, the walking street around Hoan Kiem Lake is open, which has numerous cultural activities that you can join in.

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

Strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake at weekends will be fun (Source: Collected)

In addition to St. Joseph’s Cathedral, there are many other tourist attractions in Hanoi that you should pay a visit to such as the West Lake, Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, as well as Vinpearl Aquarium and VinKE Times City. These are both excellent for you and your children.

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi

Enjoy even more relaxing moments at Vinpearl Aquarium & VinKE

At Vinpearl Aquarium, children will have the opportunity to explore the ocean world at one of the most modern aquarium systems in Vietnam. In a total area of ​​​​nearly 4,000 square meters, the aquarium is home to more than 30,000 sea creatures from around the world.

On the other hand, at VinKE, your family will have a chance to have fun together and educate your children in a complex of 4,000 square metres large. VinKE creates a “play and learn” ground for children to experience their dream careers and explore their future prospects. Here, there are many job simulation games, such as Fire Department, Traffic Police, Fashion Star, Kid Chef, Auto Repair Workshop, etc.

>>> Remember to book tickets of Vinpearl Aquarium and VinKE to have even more fun with ease!

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has so many secrets to unveil. St. Joseph’s Cathedral is like a gem in the heart of the city, which has witnessed many historic events throughout the past hundreds of years. This magnificent architectural work has survived fierce wars to stand as a treasure of Hanoi French colonial architecture.

>>> Don’t hesitate to book tickets of Vinpearl Aquarium and VinKE to grab the best deals before your trip to Hanoi!

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