Home > Blog > Phat Diem Cathedral – A master piece of art

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.

Hanoi to Phat Diem Cathedral

Hanoi to Phat Diem by local bus

The most convenient way is to travel by limousine Dcar offered by Binh Minh Limousine with comfortable seats departs at FLC building (36 Pham Hung), drop off at most of the famous tourist attractions in Ninh Binh such as Tam Coc, Thung Nham, Trang An, Hoa Lu and Phat Diem Cathedral. Ticket costs 250k per person and it takes 2.5 hours to Phat Diem. Booking a ticket on the online platform VeXeRe

Otherwise, there is another choice to go by a local bus depart from Southern Bus Terminal (Ben Xe khach phia Nam). Go to the ticket booth and find a bus to Kim Son, Ninh Binh and ticket costs 70k but they do pick up passengers along the way, it also takes 2.5 hours. This is an option for those who want to travel on a tight budget. 

Hanoi to Phat Diem by Grab or private transfer

Private transfer arranged by the hotel where you are staying is a good choice because you can combine with other nearby attractions. For a day trip, I recommend going to Phat Diem Cathedral, Van Long Nature Reserve (Galaxy Grotto) . For both of these options, you can also take a bike ride with a local guide to explore rural areas and the stunning beauty of limestone karst mountain surroundings. 

If money matter isn’t a big deal, then going on a guided tour with a private guide and a private car . The cost is up to $100 USD per person includes a private transfer, guide, lunch, entrance fee, a water bottled per person.

Fully handmade construction site – Phat Diem Cathedral

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 heart church – Phat Diem Cathedral

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 a 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 a memorable experience for visitors is the 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 millions 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.

The lake with a small island in Phat Diem Cathedral

The lake with a small island in Phat Diem Cathedral

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”.

Please see more reviews of Phat Diem Cathedral on Trip Advisor 

Questions and Answers about Phat Diem Cathedral

Do you need to book in advance to visit Phat Diem Cathedral?

In my opinion, you’d better book a guided tour because it isn’t easy to travel to Phat Diem by a local bus. There is no other tourist attractions closed. Going on a guided tour you can also check out other places in Ninh Binh area. 
What hotels are near Phat Diem Cathedral?

There is no nearby hotels. The closest one locates in Ninh Binh city which is 30 kilometers (20 miles) or 50 minutes drive. 
What restaurants or cafes are near Phat Diem Cathedral?

There is a vintage cafe (Cafe Mau Dich) near Phat Diem Cathedral, which is right in front of the cathedral. Besides, there is an onsite restaurant at the Cathedral where you can have lunch 

Practical information about traveling Phat Diem 

Entrance fee : Free of charge 

Time to spend : 1 to 2 hours

Mass opens daily at 6.00 am 10.00 am and 4.00pm

Nearby Attractions to see near Phat Diem Cathedral

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

Combining your trip with Galaxy Grotto (Dong Thien Ha)

Trekking into Cuc Phuong National park

Taking a sampan boat ride on Van Long nature reserve, you may see the monkey in the afternoon from 4.30pm

See also: Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

Ninh Binh off the spite day tour

If you do like this Phat Diem Cathedral articles, don’t forget to like and share by clicking the button below. Hynam Travel also offers tours to Ninh Binh with truly local experience.