Churches in Saigon were mostly built in the latter half of the 19th century, often with French combining Roman, Gothic architectural style of Medieval Europe. There are some constructions built to be emotional support for the French government, and some others to meet the spiritual needs of indigenous believers.
It is the largest church in the city, completed in 1880, which is also known as the State Church due to the investment of the French colonial government. Initially, the church is the place where held official ceremonies, later was managed by the diocese of Saigon.
At that time, Notre Dame is considered the largest church in the French colonies; built of Marseille’s brick, stained glass and steel frame from France, combining with Bien Hoa green stone. The Roman-like doorway and Gothic arches are reminiscent of the great cathedral in Paris, Chartres, Reim.
Notre Dame Cathedral is absolutely no room for candles but fully illuminated by electric lights. The work started on October 7th, 1877 and was inaugurated on November 4th, 1880. The church was designed in France, constructed by a French engineer named Bourad.
Tan Dinh Cathedral
Tan Dinh Cathedral is a smaller church for the Vietnamese parish, a typical blend of different French architectural styles, which was built and expanded in several stages. Located on a bustling street, Tan Dinh church has beautiful architecture from the curved arches to the finely carved details. Inaugurated on December 16th, 1876, Tan Dinh Cathedral is among the earliest religious buildings in Saigon.
Huyen Sy Cathedral
Huyen Sy church is built around the prototype of a small French church. This is among few constructions that used Bien Hoa granite in the facade as well as the base and the columns. This stone is very hard, so it did not have the traditional decorative details but expressed wealthy desire.
The church has new Gothic style with tapered arches and some other special decorations.
There are windows on the wall but we hardly see a light, due to be screened. Behind the church there is the marble grave of Mr. and Mrs. Huyen Sy, who were the richest people at that time, had spent money for church building, so this church was named after them.
Cha Tam Cathedral
Cha Tam church, also known as Francis Xavier Cathedral in Cho Lon has the inside decoration much similar to a Chinese temple. On December 3rd, 1900, the feast of St. Francis Xavier, Bishop Mossard had come here to put the first stone for the Chinese church - which is Francis Xavier Cathedral today.
On January 10th, 1902, a solemn inauguration has been conducted. After building the church, the pastor Asson Tam also built a school, foster home, a boarding house, and several rental houses.
In 1934, Father Tam died, then was buried near the church’s entrance. Therefore, people often called it “Cha Tam Cathedral”. In 1990, the church steeple and sanctuary were refurbished.
Cho Quan Cathedral
Cho Quan Church has Gothic architectural style. This most massive church in Cho Lon area is over more than 100 years old but still majestic. Cho Quan is one of the oldest parishes of the Saigon Archdiocese. The first chapel here was built in 1674 by Northern and Central parishioners.
After being rebuilt several times, in 1887, priest Nicola Ham started construction of a new church. This work was inaugurated on 4th Lunar New Year festival in 1896 and has existed so far.