Saint Joseph Cathedral Hanoi | Historical Information | Tourist Information
An Neo-Gothic Cathedral located in the heart of Hanoi Capital, Saint Joseph Cathedral is the representative evidence of the French colonial architecture.
Familiarly called by the local as “The Big Church”, Saint Joseph Cathedral is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi for more than 4 million Catholics in the country.
Another place that also represents the evidence of French colonies is Hỏa Lò Prison (also known as Maison Centrale). Click here to read more about Hỏa Lò Prison.
A. History of St. Joseph Cathedral Hanoi
A.1. The Construction:
The construction of Hanoi began in 1886, with the architectural style described as resembling the famous cathedral Notre Dame de Paris.
As an oldest church in Hanoi, St. Joseph was one of the first structure built by the French colonist during the expansion in its colonial empire Indochina.
St. Joseph was built on the site of Bao Thien Pagoda – a well-respected temple as the center of Buddhist practice in Lý-Trần dynasty demolished for the construction of the Church.
A.2. After the French colonial era:
After the retreat of French from North Vietnam in 1954, St. Joseph Cathedral is under the control the Vietnamese Nationalists and suffered decade of persecution, when priests were arrested, church property were seized and expropriated.
It was not until the Christmas Eve of 1990 that the mass was allowed to be celebrated there.
B. The Architecture of St. Jospeh Cathedral
64,5 meters in length, 20,5 meters in width, 31,5 meters in height.
The façade consists of two towers, square in shape with five bells.
The twin bell towers with the resemblance to Notre Dame de Paris.
The exterior walls made of granite stone slabs, yet is stained with pollution with the pass of time.
Gothic style, tall windows with pointed arches.
Stained glass windows were produced in France then imported to Vietnam.
Rib vaulted ceiling.
Weathered nave with shiny sanctuary made of trimmed wood
The statue of Virgin Mary kept in palanquin, to the left of the nave.
C. Tourist Information
C.1. Opening hour
For Outside visit: all time
For Inside visit: visitors can only enter the Cathedral in Hanoi in the opening time of ceremonial practice as the following schedule:
Visitors can easily find St. Joseph Cathedral Hanoi, located at 40 Nhà Chung street, as it lies in the connecting corner of Nhà Chung and Nhà Thờ street.
C.3. Entrance Fee/ Ticket Price
Public space and free
take 01 to Trieu Quoc Dat street stop
02 to Hai Ba Trung Street stop;
09, 14, 36 to Hoan Kiem Lake stop and
Then walk to the Cathedral
Motorcycle/ Bicycle: park vehicles near Hoan Kiem lake (the parking line is parallel to Cau Go Street) and walk to the Cathedral
Parking fee: 10.000 VND (0.4 USD)
D. What’s next after visiting St. Joseph Cathedral?
D.1. Where to go next?
As a benefit of location in the center of Hanoi, visitors are provided of a variety of choice for the next destinations. Visitors can consider these following:
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple:
Hoan Kiem Lake, the lake of Returned Swords, as the most representative site pertaining the value of Hanoi with famous historical legend.
Ngoc Son Temple as the symbol of educational tradition of the Vietnamese
Hoa Lo Prison: also known as Maison Centrale, a representative testimony of the period of Vietnamese revolutionary struggle against the French colonists
Address: 1 Hoa Lo Street
Vietnam Museum of Woman: preserve and display various tangible and intangible historical and cultural heritage of Vietnamese women through the long-standing pathway of the history
Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street
D.2. Where to eat next?
Bánh gối and deep-fried cuisine: 52 Ly Quoc Su Street
Pork Porridge: Ngõ Huyện Street
E. Free Tour with Hanoi Free Local Tour
Visitors are highly recommended to book a free tour with Vietnamese locals when visiting St. Joseph Cathedral to understand more about its presence in the local’s social life and further fully explore Hanoi with other nearby attractions.
Free tour is organized by Hanoi Free Local Tour with tour guides are groups of young passionate and energetic students who seek to guide the foreigners as a way to practice and improve their English skills but are trained to have full knowledge about attractions in Hanoi and tour guide skill.
Booking a tour is easy as visitors only have to go to websites and place a tour’s order. Visitors will receive a confirmation from tour director and they will be picked at their hotel or arranged meeting place at time as appointed.
The old day goes “ men build the house and women make it home”. It means that men are breadwinners who take charge of earning money and shoulder financial responsibilities in the family, while women are accountable for taking care of children, preparing meals for the family. However, Vietnamese women have to take more responsibilities than those. In addition to being a wife, a mother of the children they are a insufficient millitary source in wars against invaders, especially through the two fights against the French and America colonialism.
Vietnamese women’s museum is located in Ly Thuong Kiet street which is the most ancient and vibrant street in such a cosmopolitan city like Hanoi. The museum was constructed in 1987 and run by Vietnam Women’s union. It is the goal of the site to preserve and display various tangible and intangible historical and cultural heritage of Vietnamese women through the long-standing pathway of the history. Since being inaugurated in 1995, it has held a variety of exhibitions successfully and welcomed millions of international visitors from different nations on a yearly basis.
When it comes to the achievements that the museum has obtained, the most outstanding one that should not be mentioned is that it ranks 11th of 25 most popular museums in Asia voted by TripAdvisor with the meaningful message “ worth visiting, touching stories” in 2013. In addition, in continuous years, it holds one of the top tourist attractions of the capital, according to the recent statistics from the Tourism Department.
Vietnamese women’s museum was constructed in such a harmonious layout including two buildings a primary part, an inferior one and a cafeteria. The first impression that catches visitors’ eyes is the huge glass in front of the main gate. It is a stained glass divided into different cells with attractive colors that show the contents of the museum. Besides, it seems to be an effective way of emphasizing on the nature when the architectures utilized green trees and colorful flowers to take place of metal fence. Just a little detail is able to make tourists feel inspired and comfortable to enjoy quality time in the museum. It has four floors that are full with various books, items and subjects related to Vietnamese women.
If the outside of the museum brings tourists comfort, its interior makes them surprised and even takes their breath away because of its creative design. Standing in the first floor, there is a statue named “Mother of Vietnam” which is the symbol of the museum. The woman is holding her baby on her shoulder and her right hand is putting down at her feet, which means to be a shield to protect her child. This image represents for Vietnamese women with respected characteristics. Being a wife, a mother, they appear to be a flame heating the unconditional family love. Looking up to the ceiling is an interesting fun. There is a great number of the colorful conical leaf hats that are the symbol of Vietnamese women hanging on the ceiling. The museum often is renovated and redesigned accordance with each collection so that visitors feel like they are in a scene of the movie. Furthermore, other floors cover over 1000 items and diverse images. Only by seeing these exhibits can visitors portray vividly the appearance of Vietnamese women with their feats, sacrifice and their loss for our nation’s independence and reunification.
Women’s museum has three main themes: women in the family, women in history and women’s fashion. On the second floor, we can gain deeper understanding about women in the family ranging from wedding ceremonies, wedding costumes for women of all regions to the local rituals and customs related to women. There are some ethnic groups adapting the parental line of descent while others accept maternal line of descent. Despite the difference between groups in the family system, the procedures of wedding seem similar to some extent. The wedding normally consists of three parts: espousal, wedding and returned ceremony. It is interesting to note that for several ethnic groups, the more the amount of dowry is, the higher level of respect and love in husband’s family is. Next to the room displaying exhibits about wedding, there is a place to display the process of pregnancy with unique things of each group own such as a couple’s bedroom of the Black Thai ethnic and the ring called praying for having child. Additionally, the organization of family also depicts thoroughly through exhibits associated with various activities like hunting, planting, trafficking, and so on.
The third floor focuses on the topic of women in history. it is the site to reminisce the life stories of heroic females who delicated the whole life to the Resistance war against invaders. You will be surprised to see memorabilia in here that is the most justified proof of creativity, iron willpower and ingenuous romance of Vietnamese women even in the wars, typically the vase from shells, militia platoon, etc… there are also various pictures of heroic Vietnamese mothers whose husband, children sacrificed bravely, heroically. They had to hide countless hurt in the introverted soul and continued to fight. They are so so great!!!.
The forth floor is for women’s fashion. It shows clearly percise skills of vietnamese women in the craftsmanship. They produced sewing, art pattern, embroidery, making jewellery art and makeup art deriving from ethnic groups in the north mountainous area. Besides, it is interesting for tourists to learn more about the unique traditional customs of betel chewing and teeth staining. The museum also holds different exhibitions about various different topics such as “Mau” creed whom the Vietnamese worship for with a view to wishing the best and praying for their family, especially for their children. You have chance of discovering some folk songs, dances and special costumes in the form of worshipping.
Adjacent to the main hall and courtyard, the first floor is also the place to display a wide range of exhibitions according to topics reflecting contemporary life, raising the voice of society and exchanging the cultures between countries, for example, the Japanese doll exhibition with excellent and precise handmade dolls. It brings the museum brand-new leaf and an opening life. Not only taking place some exhibitions and events, does the museum hold traditional musical programs that attract many international tourists as well. Thanks to performing these programs, while tourists outside Vietnam can broaden their horizons about this type of art, Vietnamese people in particular young generations put emphasis on preserving the national conventional traditions and identity. Besides assimilating into multicultural world, they also should protect traditional values and develop them non-stop.
Attaching importance to creativity and practicing, the museum has opened discovery room in the aim of teaching children aged from 7 to 15 years. With modern and quality facilities, this room would facilitate children to nurture and foster their creativity, soft skills and expand their social relationships. There are both Vietnamese and English books, stories about women, children and other diverse topics sponsored from many bookshops, funds. Children are taught to make craftworks, conceal leaf hats and draw pictures of their own.
Vietnamese women’s museum appears to be a colorful magazine vividly replaying all aspect of life of Vietnamese women. It makes a significant contribution to convey meaningful messages to the youth about the respected qualities of women. It also helps to broaden our horizons about national heritage and traditional values of Vietnamese women.