The oldest stone church in Vietnam – Phat Diem Stone Church

Phat Diem Stone Cathedral Ninh Binh is a long-standing architectural work that is more than 100 years old and was built over 30 years with an Asian and European architectural style that is quite different from other churches in Vietnam considered the “Catholic capital of Vietnam”.

The church complex is a combination of Eastern pagoda architecture and Western Gothic architecture, creating an architectural complex such as a pond and the Virgin Mary chapel.

Not built in a towering or massive architectural style like the churches in the Hai Hau Nam Dinh area, Phat Diem church’s architecture follows the direction of communal houses, pagodas, and temples. The church is designed with a curved roof like a pagoda, next to it is a cross resting on a lotus, like Buddha sitting on a lotus.

This church was built in 1892 and completed more than 30 years later, until now it is the oldest church in our country. If you come to Ninh Binh to explore the natural beauty of Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Trang An, a world-famous scenic complex, or Bai Dinh Pagoda, a pagoda that holds many records in Vietnam, do not miss this tourist destination. This famous spiritualist!

When is the right time to go to Phat Diem Cathedral?

In general, you can visit Phat Diem Cathedral at any time of the year. However, according to the foot fanatics who have checked in here many times, this Catholic building will become beautiful and sparkling, especially at Christmas. Because this is an occasion for community cultural activities for parishioners, many activities and events take place, and the church will be decorated with many bright lights. All create a happy and jubilant atmosphere.

Explore the 130-year-old Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

Coming here, you will be amazed by the massive appearance and extremely unique design of the church. These include ponds, lakes, statues, bell towers, cathedrals, artificial stone caves… the materials to build the church were also transported from distant lands such as Nghe An and Thanh Hoa. … hundreds of kilometers away to be able to return to Ninh Binh to build this church. Under rudimentary working conditions, thousands of tons of stone and hundreds of ironwood trees with a length of up to 12 meters weighing over 7 tons were transported to build this project.

Unlike other churches in Vietnam, the highlight of Phat Diem stone church’s architecture is the harmonious combination of Eastern and Western architecture. All items are arranged in an overall “王” shape. The open and closed space in the Eastern style clearly shows that the feng shui element is the lake in front and the mountain in the back, according to the ancient people’s concept of wanting everything to go well and bring peace to life.

Phat Diem Cathedral complex includes a large church and 5 small churches. There is a church built of natural stone, called a stone church, in addition to a bell tower and an artificial stone cave.

Large church area

Located in the center is a large church area with a length of 74m and a width of 21m with 4 roofs and 5 intricately carved entrances. The main space is a cathedral with a large altar made of monolithic stone, the front and back are carved with patterns typical of the four seasons. Along with that, the small churches are also extremely unique with columns, floors, walls, doors… all carved from stone

The roof system is built in the traditional stacked roof style with two roof floors, interrupted by windows to let in light and create a high roof height. At the end of the church is a palanquin made from marble and arched into 5 ways leading into the church. The ground and facade are all level with the highest point in the middle and gradually lower on both sides. The top of the tower is covered with funny-shaped tiles with delicate curved ends, evoking the unique combination of two Indochina architectural styles. The wooden altarpieces in the church are painted with golden steel, creating a traditional Vietnamese worship space.

Heart of the Virgin Mary

In the system of 5 small churches in Phat Diem, there is a house made of stone called the Heart of Mary. The project was first built by Mr. Sau at this cluster of relics.

The church is 15.3 m long and 8.5 m wide. Most of the foundations, columns, beams, walls, bars, towers… are made of stone. Therefore, Phat Diem is often called the Stone Church.

The Christmas festival is a major Catholic holiday, so this is an opportunity for major community cultural activities for the parishioners of Phat Diem diocese. Christmas night, the church is sparklingly decorated with brightly colored lights. System of stone caves, pine trees, luminescent lights. Creating a unique and magnificent space different from the usual Christmas holiday, which is held solemnly and sacredly, creates an attraction for locals and tourists at Christmas Eve.

After more than 100 years of existence with the impacts of natural disasters and wars, this work is still solid and has maintained its original state until now. The architectural complex of Kim Son stone church was ranked as a national historical and cultural relic in 1988.
Phat Diem Cathedral is a Catholic architectural work. But modeled after traditional Vietnamese pagoda architecture with a boat-shaped curved roof, the church is built entirely of Lim wood, a type of wood commonly built in pagodas in Vietnam. In addition, stones were also taken from Thien Duong mountain, 30km from Phat Diem. More precious stones are taken from Nhui Mountain near Thanh Hoa.

Wooden trees weighing 7 tons and stone slabs weighing up to 20 tons were transported in a primitive way to Ninh Binh to build Phat Diem church.

Phat Diem Cathedral also has many other exquisitely carved details. Around the building are decorated countless familiar images taken from Vietnamese villages such as Long – Ly – Quy – Phuong, pine, chrysanthemum, bamboo, apricot; or the image familiar to Vietnamese Buddhism is the lotus flower. The reliefs are skillfully carved on monolithic green stone carvings made by stone carving artists at that time.
It can be said that Phat Diem Stone Cathedral is a unique project with the interference between Buddhism and Christianity and architectural features combining East – West culture. With a style and architecture bearing the mark of traditional Asian temples, the stone church is not only a place to bring faith to Catholics but also creates peace and protection for Vietnamese people. .

The stone church is an attractive tourist attraction for domestic and foreign tourists when coming to Ninh Binh.

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