Churches in Ho Chi Minh City have a rich history dating back to the introduction of Christianity by Western missionaries in the 16th century. With the acceptance of French protection by the Hue court, the construction of numerous churches began, resulting in over 300 churches in the city today, including more than 200 Catholic churches. Each church showcases unique architectural styles and features, reflecting the diverse cultural influences. While Christianity arrived later than Buddhism in Vietnam, it has become an integral part of the religious landscape, and the city’s churches stand as witnesses to over a century of change in Ho Chi Minh City.
Christianity & churches in Ho Chi Minh City
During the era of French colonization, spanning from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, missionaries from France introduced Catholicism to Vietnam, making it one of the earliest religions to arrive in the country. Many of the churches in Ho Chi Minh City were constructed with the support of the French government during that period, resulting in stunning colonial-style buildings that still stand today. As time went on, new churches were built, blending Vietnamese architectural elements with classic designs, creating a unique fusion of styles that adds to the charm and character of the city’s Christian heritage.
1. Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the earliest churches in Vietnam, was built between 1863 and 1880 by French colonists. Its stunning architecture combines Roman and Gothic elements, and all construction materials were imported from France. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown district, the cathedral is a popular tourist attraction, often visited alongside the nearby Saigon Post Office, another French colonial building.
2. Tan Dinh Church
Tan Dinh Church, also known as the Pink Church, is a well-known colonial church renowned for its distinctive pink color. Its architectural style is a harmonious blend of Gothic, Roman, and Baroque influences. Situated in District 3, near the city center, the church attracts both worshipers and visitors, and its vibrant atmosphere reflects the lively spirit of the local community.
3. Cha Tam Church
Cha Tam Church, located in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown (Cho Lon), was completed in 1902. It was named after Cha Tam (priest Tam Assou), a significant missionary in the Chinese community. The church’s architecture combines typical Gothic style with elements inspired by Chinese temples. Notably, Cha Tam Church played a role in the country’s history as it served as a hiding place for President Diem during a coup.
4. Jeanne d’Arc Church
Nga Sau Church, also known as Jeanne d’Arc Church, was constructed between 1922 and 1928. The locals often refer to it as Nga Sau Church due to its location near a roundabout with six streets. With its striking Gothic architecture and a yellow exterior contrasting with the greenery surrounding it, this church stands out as a significant landmark. It offers a glimpse into Catholicism and historical architecture in Ho Chi Minh City.
5. Saint Joseph Seminary of Saigon
Saint Joseph Seminary of Saigon was established in 1863 during a challenging period of Catholicism’s development due to the civil war in Vietnam. The seminary aimed to spread and strengthen the religion, and a chapel was constructed four years later by Father Wibaux. The seminary, with its beautiful white chapel, remains relatively unknown to many residents of Ho Chi Minh City. However, it serves as a must-visit destination for those interested in delving into the history of Catholicism in Vietnam.
6. Cho Quan Church
Built in 1700, Cho Quan Church was established by a group of Catholics in the Cho Quan area. After undergoing several renovations, the church was finally completed in 1896, showcasing remarkable Gothic architecture. As the oldest church in Ho Chi Minh City, it continues to be an important place of worship in District 5.
7. Chi Hoa Church
Chi Hoa Church, finished in 1890, features Roman architecture and stands on land donated by Huyen Sy. While located in a district away from the city center, the church still played a significant role in Catholic missionary work as a branch of the Chi Hoa Catholic community.
8. Hanh Thong Tay Church
Constructed between 1921 and 1924, Hanh Thong Tay Church showcases Byzantine architecture. It is distinct from many other old churches in Vietnam and is believed to have drawn inspiration from the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy.
9. Huyen Sy Cathedral
Huyen Sy Cathedral, completed in 1905, stands as a testament to the generosity of Huyen Sy, a wealthy Saigon resident and devout Catholic. Though he passed away before the church’s construction, his child fulfilled his wishes, and the Gothic-style cathedral was erected. Inside the church, visitors can find the tombs of Huyen Sy and his wife, Huynh Thi Tai.
10. Ky Dong Church
Ky Dong Church, located in District 3, is a beautiful Catholic church known for its exquisite French Gothic architecture. Built in the early 20th century, it continues to serve as a place of worship and is admired for its intricate details and stunning stained glass windows.