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Phat Diem Cathedral – A master piece of art

Even a Catholic cathedral but Phat Diem is modeled after the traditional architecture of a Vietnamese pagoda. Located in Kim Son Dist, Ninh Binh, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Hanoi. It is known as the unique complex with a good combination in term of architecture between modern European and traditional oriental.

Fully handmade construction site

The hall at Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

The cathedral is known as a former capital of Vietnamese Catholics. The total size is about 3000 square meters (32.000 square feet). A priest, Cu Sau (The sixth Grandfather), is the one who built this cathedral within 24 years from 1875 to 1899. After well-researched in term of history and topography, the 6th father decided to choose Kim Son to build this cathedral for Catholicism. In 1965, Mr Sau started to find and collect materials. In 1975, it was officially started to build. According to written documents, it was really hard work but all done by hand. There was a piece of wood up to 7 tons or piece of a marble stone up to 20 tons, was transferred by rudimentary methods in the late 19th century. It was made of natural stone, jade and ironwood.

In order to get the materials, locals had to transfer stones both by mainland and waterway from somewhere a couple of hundred kilometers from here. Artisans cut big stones over 20 tons into smaller pieces mixed with sugar cage oil and caustic lime in order to create a single building in the whole complex.

Uniqueness in Architectural designs

The name “Phat Diem” means “light up the beauty”. What makes it different from any others cathedrals all over Vietnam is its materials, majority from natural stone, jade and ironwood. Combing with manual building methods which makes a massive cathedral. The stone used for construction called yin-yang stone which is good for heath

As a Vietnamese, but Grand Farther Sau soon got to know about Catholic European culture, he himself designed an unique architectural style to build the biggest stone cathedral in Vietnam. Good harmony between communal house, Buddhist temple architectural style of Oriental and Gotic style of European culture.

What makes memorable experience for visitors is quintessence of pattern : images of Jesus Christ, the cross, the Virgin Mary flower combines with the images of lotus flowers, old Chinese characters, Four Holy Beasts, including Long (the Dragon), Lân (the Jilin), Quy (the Turtle) and phụng/phượng (the Fenghuang), Tu Quy (precious four season pictures), including spring, summer, fall and winter; were engraved in columns, beams, veranda and porch

Chapel of Heart Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

Phat Diem used to be a coastline region formed by alluvial soil so that it had a weak soil platform, the 6th Grand Father had to order putting down million of bamboo pillars, a thousand of cubic meters of soils and stones in order to make a stable platform for such a huge construction site like this.

Buildings and Structures in Phat Diem Cathedral

The Cathedral complex comprises a bell house tower, a well, a stone church, a cathedral, and three artificial grottoes. You first see the square well lies right on the main path to the cathedral.

The Church at Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

There is a Jesus Christ statue in a small islet. Bell tower monument is next to it, made of stone carving.  There is a massive bell and drum. Next, you will see a huge cathedral built in 1891 with the name “Chapel of Virgin Mary”; its length 74 meters, its width 21 meters and its height 15 meters with 4 roofs, Ironwood for six rows.

Next to the grand cathedral is a stone church with formed name Chapel of The Sacred Heart’s fully built by stone. And now people call it “Stone church”.

Nearby Attractions to see

You might want to see Kim Son Sedge Mat village closed by

Combining your trip with Galaxy Grotto (Dong Thien Ha)

See also: Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

Ninh Binh off the spite day tour

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