Among Sai Gon’s other important landmarks are the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and Central Post Office. They are just next to each other so we visited them together. Unfortunately, the Cathedral was undergoing some major repairs so no one was allowed entry into it.
After the French conquest of IndoChina, the Roman Catholic church established Vietnam’s first church in an abandoned Pagoda. It was too small so a new church was built on Ngo Duc Ke Street but it was damaged by the termites as it was made of wood. As a result the prayers and other church services were later shifted to the French Governor’s Palace.
During 1863 and 1880, a new Cathedral was built with two bell towers rising up to about 190 feet each and having six bronze bells each. On top of each tower, crosses were installed and with this the total height of the cathedral went up to 60.5 m.
In the front beautiful flower gardens were planted with a bronze statue of Bishop of Adran, Pigneau de Behaine. It was a bit of a dampner that we could not see the Cathedral from inside.
Next door is the Sai Gon’s Central Post Office built during the 19th century. The building is beautifully constructed with Gothic, Renaissance and French styles.
There is an enormous portrait of Ho Chi Minh inside the post office which you see as you enter it. On the entrance are two maps, one of Saigon & its surroundings and the other is of telegraphic routes of South Vietnam and Cambodia. There are also the historic telephone booths inside which were used for international calls but have now slowly faded into the history of telecommunications. In some of these booths, cash dispeners (ATMs) have been installed. Apart from sending a Post Card to your loved ones, you can also shop for souvenirs here.