St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi

With an ancient appearance, St. Joseph’s Cathedral has a typical architecture, making the landscape of Hanoi Old Quarter much more attractive. If you are planning to visit the capital of Vietnam, you cannot miss this place.

St. Joseph Cathedral
St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hanoi | © John Ragai /flickr

Hanoi Cathedral

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, also called Hanoi Cathedral, is located at the intersection of three major streets, Nha Chung Street, Ly Quoc Su Street, and Nha Tho Street. This place has become an attractive tourist destination in Hanoi for tourists when coming to this city.

  • Address: 40 Nha Chung Street, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 8:00 am – 11:00 am and 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm (Mon to Sat), and 7:00 am – 11:30 am and 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm (Sun)
  • Mass time from Monday to Friday: 5:30 am and 6:15 pm
  • Mass time on Sunday: 5:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., and 4:00 pm (Children’s activity), 6:00 pm, and 8:00 pm (Youth Activity).

1. History of St. Joseph’s Cathedral

St. Joseph’s Cathedral belongs to the Archdiocese of Hanoi. This church has the throne of the archbishop, where religious activities of the parishioners of Hanoi archdiocese regularly take place.

Up to now, another feature of the church attracts people coming there because of beautiful architecture and long history.

Built in the French colonial period, the cathedral is one of the typical works for colonial architecture still preserved until now in Hanoi. The building has many details modelled after the architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

According to many documents, the French government demolished Bao Thien’s ancient pagoda, which is more than 800 years old, to build the big church on the old land of the old temple. Legend has it that Bao Thien Tu was a famous temple of Dai Viet capital during the dynasties from Ly – Tran – Le to Nguyen.

At the end of the 18th century, the pagoda was destroyed, and the pagoda’s foundation became the marketplace of the local people at that time. After that, the government transferred that land to the Catholic Church to build it into the current cathedral.

Although built on the ground of the old temple, the architecture of these two works is different completely.

The first church was made of wood. Until 1884, the church began to be completed in clay. The process of the Hanoi Cathedral buidling met with many difficulties, but the work was finished right on Christmas in 1888.

Although the birth name of the church is St. Joseph Cathedral, the locals are more familiar with it with a dear name Hanoi Cathedral.

 Through going ups and downs of history, witnessing many events of the time, the cathedral has stood for the three centuries.

Although amid the magnificent capital, plenty of architectures have come up, the cathedral is still a special highlight, making the place become an attractive place not to be missed.

2. The unique architecture of Hanoi Cathedral

Hanoi Cathedral is in the Gothic style of the 19th century with typical symmetrical towers and axes in Europe.

This typical structure has a length of 64.5m with a bell tower up to 31.5 m high.

This building used to be a unique and most monumental architectural work in Hanoi Old Quarter in particular and Hanoi capital in general.

From the Sword Lake to the West, visitors can easily recognize Hanoi Cathedral from afar because the deep colour of time is imprinted on the dark grey walls, prominent in the blue sky of the city.

People still do not understand why the Old Quarter is always bustling, but around the Hanoi, the cathedral is so quiet and peaceful. It looks like the Hanoi Cathedral stays away from the exciting and crazy life. That feature is also the reason why so many tourists like the church.

From the outside, the Hanoi Cathedral seems to have ancient features, time-coloured serenity with layers of lime and mortar that have changed colour, and the tile roof is covered with moss. However, when stepping inside, the splendour and majesty of Hanoi cathedral made the guests surprised.

Inside the church, stained glass windows and many murals with religious themes emphasize and accentuate the European architectural style. Besides, traditional Vietnamese decorative details are decorated along the aisle, on the wall, and the altar, creating impressive points for the entire space.

Besides, another attraction for visitors inside the church is the Holy Palace. The sanctuary is decorated in the folk tradition, simple but impressive and eye-catching.

Below the Cathedral are long red benches, with kneeling tables for parishioners to celebrate in the cathedral. Hanoi Cathedral can accommodate up to thousands of people. On major holidays like Christmas, Hanoi Cathedral is a place that attracts a large number of tourists everywhere and parishioners come here to visit and celebrate.

After years of hiatus, the reorganization of Masses at Hanoi Cathedral has been re-opened since 1990. Since then, the holy services at Hanoi Cathedral have always attracted a large number of people every day.

3. Top 5 activities to do when visiting St. Joseph’s Cathedral

3.1. Visit the ceremony held in the cathedral

Visiting the ceremony held in Hanoi Cathedral is an exciting experience that you should try first when visiting this place. This church shows the most the concepts of beliefs and religions of the Catholics through ceremony services, such as weddings or baptisms.

If you are non-believers and want to learn more about the unique features of the rituals in a Catholic ceremony, this is an unforgettable experience in life.

Please note that St. Joseph’s Cathedral is free of charge for tourists, and opening and closing hours of the church can vary by day. When visiting the church during the ceremony, you should pay attention to dress politely, discreetly, neatly. Do not speak loudly, shout, and absolutely should not say any discrimination against religious or emotional differences that commit or effect the saints and other Catholics.

3.2. Celebrating Christmas at St. Joseph’s Cathedral

Christmas is the time when St. Joseph’s Cathedral puts on the most sparkling and beautiful gown. Whether you are a Catholic or a non-believer, every Christmas comes, we always wish that all peace, happiness, and blessings will come to all our loved ones.

When you come to Hanoi Cathedral at Christmas, you will enjoy the warm, happy atmosphere with sparkling Christmas trees with lights, and colourful rocky caves.

3.3. Take pictures of the Hanoi Cathedral

Whether it’s sunny days, autumn yellow leaves, or winter with the numb wind, the scenery at Hanoi Cathedral is ready to give you the quality background for beautiful photos.

Most of the tourists coming to Hanoi seem impossible to ignore this check-in place. Also, we think you do, too. You will have a great time with beautiful pictures to share with your friends when standing in front of this church.

3.4. Enjoy the lemon tea or a cup of coffee at the church

cafe at hanoi church
© Eden Coffee at 2 Nhà Thờ

Do not know when lemon tea and coffee become the specialty drink of Hanoi Cathedral. Every weekend or late afternoon to night, plenty of young people come to the coffee shops around the church.

Lemon tea or coffee at the church is not too different from this drink in other places. You just try the feeling of sipping a little sour tea or a flavorful coffee cup and biting sunflower while chatting with friends. And, the church stands quietly, so a weekend evening passes gently.

>>> You may like to see 10 best activities to do in Hanoi.

The great church is a beautiful place with typical architecture and an interesting place for visiting and relaxing to escape from the noisy life in Hanoi.

Please list the St. Joseph’s Cathedral on your list when you have a chance to visit the Old Quarter of Hanoi!