History of Phat Diem Cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral is known for its unique architectural style, which combines Vietnamese and European elements. The Cathedral was built by Father Trần Lục, also known as Père Six or cụ Sáu in Vietnamese, and his tomb is located in the front yard of the cathedral. The wooden statues inside the cathedral were created by Vietnamese artisan Pho Gia.
After the 1954 Geneva Conference, many of its parishioners and clergy relocated to safer areas in South Vietnam. The cathedral continues to function as a place of worship, and there are numerous other churches in the surrounding area. On August 15, 1972, the cathedral was bombed, causing the west wall, convents, and two schools to collapse. However, after being restored, there are no visible signs of this damage.
Main Architecture In The Phat Diem Cathedral
The cathedral is a large building complex that was constructed in 1891, famous for its design featuring a blend of Vietnamese and European neo-Gothic styles. The entire complex covers an area of 15 acres. In addition to the cathedral, the complex inludes an episcopal residential and pastoral center buildings.
The main church measures 210 feet long and 60 feet wide. The unique design of the cathedral looks as if pagodas have been placed on top of the towers of a Gothic church. The exterior of the main church is adorned with intricate carvings and decorative details, including figures of dragons, phoenixes, and other mythical creatures.
The interior of the church is also decorated with intricate carvings and frescoes, and it features a number of altars dedicated to different saints and religious figures. The altar in the front worship area is made from a single, ornately decorated slab of lacquered and gilded wood in an “orthodox-style.” Above the altar are portraits of around 30 missionaries, mostly of European descent. The ceiling of the cathedral is adorned with paintings of angels in Vietnamese style. The interior walls feature Catholic iconography as well as Eastern religious symbols such as dragons, unicorns, tortoises, and phoenixes.
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Other Architectures In The Phat Diem Cathedral
In addition to the main church, the cathedral complex includes four smaller churches, a bell tower, and a number of smaller chapels and buildings.
The bell tower is a distinctive feature of the cathedral, standing at the entrance to the complex and featuring a tall, ornate structure with multiple tiers of bells. Climbing to the top of the bell tower provides a panoramic view of the town. The earth from the ramp, which was used to lift the bell and other metal objects, was spread around the cathedral, raising the ground level by 1 meter.
The Chapel of Immaculate Heart of Mary (1883), completely in stone. The small chapel is constructed with large carved stone blocks, and the interior is cool like a cave. A white statue of the Sacred Heart is located in a small lake in front of the cathedral.
Four small chapels are:
The Chapel of Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Chapel of Saint Roch
The Chapel of Saint Joseph
The Chapel of Saint Peter
Timber-frame Architecture of Phat Diem Cathedral
The architecture of Phat Diem Cathedral is a blend of traditional Vietnamese and European styles, reflecting the cultural influences of the region and the cathedral’s history as a center of Catholic missionary activity.
The wooden pillars are an important feature of the cathedral’s architecture, and they are a key element of the traditional timber-frame construction techniques used in the building. In traditional timber-frame construction, the wooden pillars and beams of a building are used to support the weight of the structure and to provide stability. The nave of the cathedral is supported by 52 pillars, 16 of which are 11 meters tall and made from large ironwood trees. The wooden pillars and beams are carved with intricate designs and decorated with various decorative elements, including figures of dragons, phoenixes, and other mythical creatures, which contribute to the overall beauty and architectural interest of the building.
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Wood Carving Art in Phat Diem Cathedral
The wood carvings at Phat Diem Cathedral were created by skilled craftsmen using chisels and other tools. The carvings are a testament to the high level of artistry and craftsmanship that went into the construction of the cathedral, and they are an important part of its cultural and artistic legacy. The wood carvings can be found on various parts of the cathedral complex, including the main church, the bell tower, and the smaller chapels and buildings.
Many of the carvings depict religious themes, including images of the Virgin Mary and other saints, as well as scenes from the Bible and other religious texts. Other wood carvings at Phat Diem Cathedral depict cultural themes, such as mythical creatures and other decorative elements.
Stone Carving Art At Phat Diem Cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral is known for its intricate stone carvings, which adorn both the exterior and interior of the main church. The carvings on the exterior of the main church are particularly notable, as they cover much of the surface of the building.
The carvings depict a variety of religious and cultural themes, including figures of dragons, phoenixes, and other mythical creatures, as well as images of saints and other religious figures. The stone carvings at Phat Diem Cathedral are a testament to the skill and artistry of the craftsmen who created them, and they are an important part of the cathedral’s cultural and artistic legacy.
In addition to its architectural and cultural significance, the Phat Diem Stone Church is also an important religious site for Catholics in Vietnam. Many people visit the church for religious services, as well as for special events such as weddings and baptisms. The church is open to visitors every day, and guided tours are available for those interested in learning more about its history and architecture.
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Information Of Phat Diem Catherdral
Address: 75 Phat Diem Dong St, Kim Son District, Ninh Binh Province
Opening hours for visitors: Daily 07:00-18:00
Mon-Fri: 5:00 am, 17:30 pm
Sat: 05:00 am, 18:00 pm
Sun: 05:00 am, 10:00 am, 16:30 pm, 19:00 pm
Average visit time: 1 hour