Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral closes its door to tourists for renovation

By Huu Cong   July 3, 2017 | 11:02 pm PT
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral closes its door to tourists for renovation
Work has started to restore the iconic Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
But you are still welcome to attend a service and say a prayer for the workers who are trying to fix the massive roof.

Restoration work has started at Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, one of Ho Chi Minh City's most famous tourist attractions, and will take two years to complete.

Father Ho Van Xuan, a representative of the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, said on Tuesday that the renovation work is expected to go until late 2019. 

During that time, the cathedral will only be open for church services, he said. Workers will be cordoning off the area around the church for the next three weeks.

The municipal government approved a plan to restore the cathedral late last year.

In June last year, Father Xuan said some parts of the cathedral had fallen into disrepair due to the weather, adding that the restoration work would be conducted carefully to "keep the original beauty" of the historic building.

Financed by the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, workers will get started on fixing the roof, which is 91m long and 35m wide, before moving on to the interior and bell towers.

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

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

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).

Located in a tourist precinct that includes the historic Central Post Office in District 1, the cathedral is popular among foreign and local visitors, especially during holiday seasons.

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