Ninh Binh


Phat diem cathedral - A unique blend of European and Vietnamese Architecture

By Custom Vietnam Travel | Updated 1/5/2019

Ninh Binh – a province located at the southernmost point of the Red River Delta, 93km south of Hanoi has a large number of religious and cultural architectural works that have historical value, of which many have been included in the tours such as: Phat Diem Stone Church, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Bich Dong Pagoda, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Tran Temple (Trang An Ecological Complex), Temple for worshipping Duc Thanh Nguyen, Thai Vi Temple, Ban Long Pagoda, etc. In this article we will explore one of famous Ninh Binh’s attractions that is Phat Diem Cathedral.

The unique picture of Phat Diem Cathedral

The Phat Diem Cathedral is situated in Kim Son District of Ninh Binh Province, in the Phat Diem town, a Catholic area also known as Kim Son. It is nearly 29 km southeast of Ninh Binh and 121 kilometres (75 mi) from Hanoi. The architecture of Phat Diem church, made by stone in 1892 is a blend of Vietnamese and European architectural designs known as the "eclectic architectural style". The Cathedral was bombed on 1972 when its west wall, the convents and 2 schools were damaged; after restoration, there are not any tell-tale marks of this bombing. Although a church, it absolutely was constructed with temple type roofs in our traditional Vietnamese styles. But after re-establishment, there are not even tell-tale marks of this destruction.

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The picture in front of Phat Diem Cathedral

Another view of Phat Diem Cathedral

The author Graham Greene illustrated the Cathedral likes "more Buddhist than Christian, in his novel The Quiet American

As far as I know that the cathedral, which is a towering stone, was built in the Sino-Vietnamese-style blended with stone walls built in European Gothic Style. It is beautified with box type cupolas or domes with "upturned tiled roofs", which are like Pagodas. Pere Six, who built it, was particular to haul the sandstones to build the cathedral from a quarry a distance of more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) away. The eclectic design of the cathedral seems as if the pagodas "had been dropped into the towers of a Gothic church."

A small island with a statue of Jesus Christ

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Furthermore, Phat Diem Cathedral is also known as a complex comprising of a lake, a cathedral, a stone church, Phuong Dinh (bell house) and three artificial grottoes. Visitors will be impressed in the first time when getting here by a square lake on the main road to the cathedral. Especially in the heart of the lake, there is a small island with a statue of Jesus Christ. Phuong Dinh easily becomes your next eye-catching monument, with stone carvings on both sides of the walls and the floor is covered by large green flagstones.

Inside Phat Diem Cathedral

After leaving the Phuong Dinh, travellers will see a great cathedral which was built in 1891 with the official name “Nha tho Duc Me Man Coi”. The cathedral is 74 meters long, 21 meters wide and 15 meters high with four roofs. It was built of 6 rows of monolithic ironwood. Within the cathedral are four small churches of different styles. Next to the grand cathedral is a stone church with initial called “Nha Tho Trai Tim Vo Nhiem Nguyen Toi Duc Me” but now people usually refer to call it as” Stone church” because from its walls, pillars, ground, bars to tie beams are made of stone. Then going to the inside of the church, you will have a chance to see many sophisticatedly carved reliefs, with chrysanthemum, bamboo, fir tree and the apricot tree that symbolize four seasons in a year. Moreover, surrounding Phat Diem Cathedral, there are a lot of beautiful stone caves and artificial mountains.

With artistic design and skilful technique, Phat Diem Cathedral is a pride of many local Ninh Binh people, make sure you can't miss any interesting destinations when you travel to Ninh Binh, contact us to make your trip of a lifetime. See you soon!

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