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|Duc Ba Church - Nhà thờ Đức Bà|
HistoryAfter the invasion of Vietnam, the French colonists established a church for the religious offices. The first church was built in street 5 (currently Ngo Đuc Ke street). It was a pagoda given up by Vietnamese during the war. Bishop Lefebvre transformed this pagoda into a church. But this one was too small, and in 1863, admiral Bonard decided to build a wooden church on the bank of Charner channel (Kinh Lon). Bishop Lefebvre posed the first stone on March 28th, 1863. Construction touched its term in 1865 and the building was called Saigon church.
In August 1876, the French Cochinchine's governor Dupre organized a contest to determine the structure of the Notre-Dame cathedral. The objective was double: to provide to the colonial missions a place of worship, but also to show to Vietnamese people the force, by the architecture, and French civilization. The project of architect J. Bourad was selected by the contest organizers among the 17 advanced proposals. The cathedral by J. Bourad was revised the Romance mixed with Gothic style. The construction of the cathedral lasted 3 years since 1877 to 1880.
In 1895, two bell-towers were added to the cathedral, each one high 57.6 meters including 6 bronze bells for a total weight of 28.85 tons. The crosses were installed in top of each tower; they are 3.5 meters high, 2 meters broad, for 600 kilograms. The religious building measures then 60.5 meters.
In 1903, in the flowered garden in front of the cathedral, there was a bronze statue of Pigneau de Béhaine (also called bishop of Adran) who was directing prince Canh (son of Gia Long) to raise the great merits of France for Vietnam. The statue was manufactured in France. In 1945, the statue was loosened, but by preserving the foundations.
|Duc Ba Church in the past|
In 1962, Vatican anointed the cathedral as a chief of Saigon, conferring to it the properties of a basilica. Consequently, this cathedral was called the Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral of Saigon.
Characteristics of architectureThe external wall of the cathedral was built with bricks from Marseilles, although they are not coated, these bricks still preserve their bright red color. The church on the whole has 56 squares of stained glasses manufactured by Lorin from Chartres province (France). The underpinning is drawn up particularly to support ten times more of the church's weight. And it is special that the cathedral does not have any fence like the other churches in Saigon - Gia Dinh formerly and now.
All above the principal door, it is "the floor" with one of two oldest organs in Vietnam. This organ is manufactured by the foreign experts, particularly for this cathedral so its volume is, neither too low nor high, suitable with this church. At the beginning, two bell-towers are of 36,6 meters and do not have a roof but a narrow staircase of 40 cm. There are on the whole six large bells of six tons (sol, la, si, do, ré, mi) and of 28,85 tons heavy, hung in these two bell-towers. These bells were manufactured in France and imported in Saigon in 1879. Four bells (sol, si, ré, mi) are hung in the right bell-tower; two others (la, do) in the left one. The bells' surface appears the very delicate ornaments. The three largest bells are the si of 3.150 kg, the ré of 2.194 kg and especially the sol, one of the largest bells of the world, of 8.785 kg, whose the mouth of 2.25 meters in diameter, 3.5 meters high (including the ear). This bell resounds only once a year at the Christmas time.
|The interior of cathedral|
The clock under the vault, at 15 meters from the ground, in the center of two bell-towers, was manufactured in Switzerland in 1887, of R.A mark, 2.5 meters high, 3 meters long, more than one meter broad and more than one ton heavy, placed on a brick pedestal. Although rudimentary and old, it still works properly.
|Panorama of Duc Ba Church|
Source : SaigontoursVietnam