Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral restoration to extend until 2023

By Nguyen Quy   December 24, 2018 | 05:56 pm PT
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral restoration to extend until 2023
Pigeons fly over the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral in District 1, HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Deterioration worse than estimated, restoration of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral will need three more years, says management board.

Ongoing renovation work on the 138-year-old cathedral, one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions, started mid-2017 and was scheduled for completion next year.

However, Father Ho Van Xuan, head of the restoration project’s management board, said many parts of the cathedral have experienced deterioration beyond original estimations, so it would take more time to complete the work.

Furthermore, restoration construction "must be done very carefully" to keep the original beauty of the building which is of great religious, historic and cultural importance, Xuan, a representative of the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, said at a recent meeting with the city’s Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong.

Xuan also recommended the construction of a fence around the cathedral to prevent people from vandalizing its walls.

The cathedral has been closed to tourists since the extensive renovation work began.

Financed by the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, the restoration project, which would cost an estimated VND140 billion ($6.15 million), was to be split into three parts: the roof, the interior and finally the two bell towers.

There are around 50,000 tiles on the roof of the cathedral, and one of the most difficult tasks will be to source the Marseilles tiles used in the original construction, it was reported.

The walls of the cathedral, which have been defaced by vandals, will be repainted.

Earlier this year, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City called for individual donations to fix the historical site, as it has only raised half the money it needs.

Restoration of the famous building has prompted scammers to con people, using Xuan's name to raise funds, according to a statement issued by the church.

The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral was built by French colonialists between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers that stand at a height of 58 meters (190 feet).

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