This neo-gothic cathedral dominates a small square in Hanoi’s old quarter, on the west side of Hoàn Kiếm Lake.
It was built on the site of the Bao Thien Pagoda, a sacred Buddhist temple, which was demolished to make way for this after the French captured the Hanoi Citadel in 1872. The twin towers and neo-gothic style clearly demonstrate the influence that Notre Dame de Paris had on the design of this cathedral.
The building was consecrated on December 24, 1886 and has had its own traumatic history since then.
Following the 1954 Geneva Accords and the Viet Minh’s control of North Vietnam, the Catholic church was subject to persecution , with theft and damage of property and arrests of those associated with the church. St Joseph’s itself was closed and did not reopen until Christmas Eve 1990, 104 years after its consecration.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 9 November 2017
Posted as part of Thursday Special