Phat Diem Cathedral is in Phat Diem Town, Kim Son District, Ninh Binh Province, 120 km from Hanoi. The cathedral was built during 24 years (1875 – 1899) under the lead of Priest Tran Luc (The leader of Phat Diem Cathedral since 1865). With the condition of years of late 19th century, transporting thousands of stone tons including pieces with the weight of 20 tons and hundreds timbers to build the cathedral is a marvel.
Located on the ground having the area of 20 ha, the cathedral complex consists of 11 architectures arranged logically, making a beautiful ancient sight. Through 100 years, the architecture of remain whole. The front of the campus of the cathedral is a water pool having rectangle with sheath surrounding. The center of the pool has a small islet on which there is Jesus Christ statue made from white stone stretching out the 2 arms. Behind the pool of water is Square House (Vietnamese: Phương Đình) built from1899. Looking generally, the house looks like a three-way gates of the pagodas and temples in Vietnam. It is connected from grey stone mass, the height of the house of 25m, the width of 17m, the length of 24m. It has 3 floors of which the first floor is put a blue stone mass. Above, there are the sculptures carving Jesus Christ picture and Saints with elegant lines. On the second floor, there is a rather big drum. On the third floor, there is a bell with the weight of 2 tons.
An extensive yard from Square House is the main cathedral (The official name is Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral) built from 1891. The main cathedral has the length of 74m, the width of 21m, the height of 15m. The cathedral has 4 roof and 5 entrances under stone arches carved. Inside the cathedral, there are 6 pillar lines. The upper apartment has an big altar made from big stone mass with the length of 3m, the width of 0.9m, the height of 0.8m, the weight of about 20 tons. The front and the two sides of the stone mass are carved the kinds of flowers typical of 4 seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. On the stone bass is the statue of Mother Mary holding Jesus Christ.
Two sides of the main cathedral are 4 chapels: Saint Roch chapel, Saint Joseph chapel, Mother chapel (Stone Cathedral) and Saint Peter Chapel. All 4 chapels have Vietnamese temple architecture style. Two side apartments of Saint Joseph chapel have 14 bas-reliefs describing catholic stories supposed to be the masterpieces stone carving art of Vietnam. Especially, Mother Chapel is made from whole stone, the foundation, the wall, even pillars. At the end of Phat Diem Cathedral, there is a paved corridor, quiet green gardens and 3 ancient mossy caves. Here, standing in front of the statues of Mother Saints, we will be experienced the peace in spirit.
Generally, Phat Diem Cathedral is an ancient architecture and full of Oriental style. The cathedral is not only famous in the country but also in the world. Every year, there are millions of Christians and tourists everywhere coming to visit.
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