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Hanoi's Iconic St Joseph's Cathedral: A Historical Catholic Gem of Vietnam

Posted By: Alison White / Vietnam Travel Guides
St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi is a significant Catholic church in Hanoi, Vietnam. Also known as Hanoi St. Joseph Cathedral or Saint Joseph Cathedral Hanoi, it is a French-style cathedral located in the city center. An iconic landmark, the cathedral attracts tourists and worshippers alike with its beautiful architecture and historical importance in the city's religious landscape.

The construction

St. Joseph's Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Hanoi, is a majestic Catholic church located in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam. The construction of this cathedral began in 1884 and was completed in 1886.

Architecture & Structure

The unique architecture of St. Joseph's Cathedral is inspired by the Gothic style, which is prominent in many cathedrals around the world. The exterior of the cathedral is characterized by its elegant stone pillars and high pointed arches. The two towers standing tall on either side of the entrance create a strikingly beautiful sight.

Inside the cathedral, visitors are greeted by a spacious and serene atmosphere. The high ceilings and stained glass windows allow natural light to filter in, creating a magical ambiance. The nave is adorned with intricate statues and religious paintings.

What to See & Do in St. Joseph's Cathedral

St Josephs Cathedral Hanoi - Best place for strolling around Hanoi

St Josephs Cathedral Hanoi - Best place for strolling around Hanoi - (Source: Collected) 

Faith and Worship

St. Joseph's Cathedral is primarily a place of worship for Catholic believers. Daily masses are held for the faithful, providing an opportunity for prayer and spiritual reflection. Visitors can join these masses to experience the solemnity and devotion that permeate the atmosphere of the cathedral.

Religious Art and Architecture

Aside from its religious significance, the cathedral is also a treasure trove of religious art and architecture. Visitors can marvel at the intricate details of the sculptures, paintings, and stained glass windows that adorn the interior. The architecture itself is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of its builders.

Photography and Sightseeing

St. Joseph's Cathedral is a popular destination for photographers and sightseers. Its stunning facade and picturesque surroundings make it a perfect subject for capturing beautiful photographs. Visitors can take a leisurely walk around the cathedral grounds, appreciating its grandeur and beauty from different angles.

Opening Hours – Dress code – Entrance fee

Opening Hours

The cathedral is open to visitors throughout the week. From Monday to Saturday, it opens its doors from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. On Sundays, it is open for morning mass and reopens for visitors from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Dress Code

As a religious site, visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully. It is advisable to avoid wearing revealing or inappropriate clothing. Visitors should cover their shoulders and knees as a sign of respect for the religious nature of the site.

Entrance Fee

There is no entrance fee to visit St. Joseph's Cathedral. However, voluntary donations to support the maintenance and upkeep of the cathedral are greatly appreciated.

How to get there?

St. Joseph’s Cathedral: A witness of the history in Hanoi

St. Joseph’s Cathedral: A witness of the history in Hanoi - (Source: Collected) 

St. Joseph's Cathedral is located in the bustling city center of Hanoi, making it easily accessible by various means of transportation.

By Taxi

Taking a taxi is one of the most convenient ways to reach the cathedral. Visitors can hail a taxi from anywhere in the city and provide the driver with the address: Nha Tho Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.

By Public Transport

For those who prefer public transport, buses and public vans are available throughout the city. Visitors can take a bus or public van to Hang Trong bus stop, which is located just a short walk away from St. Joseph's Cathedral.

On Foot or Bicycle

For travelers staying in the city center, it is possible to reach the cathedral on foot or bicycle. This option allows visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant streets of Hanoi and enjoy the sights and sounds on the way to the cathedral.

St. Joseph's Cathedral is not only a place of worship but also a historical and cultural landmark in Hanoi. If you are planning a visit to Hanoi, be sure to include this magnificent cathedral in your list of places to visit. The food tour ha noi offers the opportunity to taste delicious Hanoi foods, providing a complete experience of the city's rich culture and heritage.

History and Architecture

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is steeped in rich history and boasts a stunning architectural heritage. The city's history dates back over a thousand years when it was first founded as Thang Long, meaning "Ascending Dragon," by Emperor Ly Thai To in 1010. Throughout its history, Hanoi has witnessed numerous invasions, political shifts, and cultural developments, all of which have contributed to its unique charm and character.

Ancient Sites

One of the most prominent historical sites in Hanoi is the Temple of Literature, known as Van Mieu in Vietnamese. Built in 1070, it is the country's first national university and dedicated to the worship of Confucius. The temple showcases traditional Vietnamese architecture, with manicured gardens, beautiful courtyards, and ornate pavilions.

Another iconic landmark is the Hanoi Citadel, also known as the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. It served as the political and military center of the city for centuries, from the 11th to the 18th century. The citadel is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a glimpse into Vietnam's feudal past.

French Influence

The French colonial period, which lasted from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, left a significant mark on Hanoi's architecture. The most obvious example is the Hanoi Opera House, modeled after the Palais Garnier in Paris. It showcases neoclassical French design with its grand facade and ornate interiors.

Another iconic French-inspired building is the St. Joseph's Cathedral, located in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter. Designed in the Gothic Revival style, the cathedral is a symbol of the city's Catholic heritage and remains an active place of worship.

Christmas Celebration

Venture off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Hanoi by exploring the stunning architecture and rich history of St. Josephs Cathedral

Venture off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Hanoi by exploring the stunning architecture and rich history of St. Joseph's Cathedral - (Source: Collected) 

Despite being a predominantly Buddhist country, Christmas is celebrated in Hanoi by both locals and expatriates. The festive spirit can be felt throughout the city, with colorful decorations, sparkling lights, and Christmas markets.

Church Celebrations

St. Joseph's Cathedral becomes the focal point of Christmas celebrations in Hanoi. On Christmas Eve, the church holds a midnight Mass, attracting a large crowd of believers and curious onlookers. The interior is adorned with festive decorations, and the atmosphere is filled with joyous carols and prayers.

Street Festivities

Hoan Kiem Lake and the surrounding streets come alive during the Christmas season. Vendors set up stalls selling Christmas-themed merchandise, street performances entertain passersby, and cafes offer special holiday treats. Visitors can immerse themselves in the festive ambiance and join in the merriment.

Visitor Information

If you're planning a visit to Hanoi, here is some essential information to make your trip smoother and more enjoyable.


Hanoi has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and taxis. The city is also bike-friendly, with many rental options available. For those seeking convenience and flexibility, Grab, a popular ride-hailing service in Southeast Asia, operates in Hanoi.


Hanoi offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. From luxurious hotels to cozy homestays in the Old Quarter, there is something for everyone. It's advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

Places to Visit in Hanoi

When in Hanoi, there are several must-visit attractions that should be on your itinerary.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Located in the heart of the city, Hoan Kiem Lake is a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling streets of Hanoi. The lake is surrounded by verdant gardens and connected to the famous Huc Bridge, leading to the Ngoc Son Temple on a small island.

The Old Quarter

Exploring the bustling streets of the Old Quarter is like stepping back in time. With its narrow alleyways, colonial architecture, and vibrant street markets, it offers a glimpse into Hanoi's past. The area is also known for its delectable street food, creating a feast for the senses.

Related Guide

If you're a food enthusiast, no visit to Hanoi is complete without indulging in its renowned street food.

Hanoi Foods

Hanoi is a culinary paradise, with a myriad of mouthwatering dishes to tempt your taste buds. From the renowned pho, a flavorful rice noodle soup served with various toppings, to banh mi, a Vietnamese-style baguette sandwich filled with savory ingredients, the city offers a gastronomic adventure.

Food Tour Hanoi

For a deeper exploration of Hanoi's food scene, consider joining a food tour. These tours typically take you to local markets, street food stalls, and hidden eateries, providing an authentic taste of Hanoi's culinary delights. Expert guides share their knowledge of the city's food culture and help you discover hidden gems.

Useful Information

Immerse yourself in the magnificent architecture and rich history of St. Josephs Cathedral Hanoi

Immerse yourself in the magnificent architecture and rich history of St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi - (Source: Collected) 

Here are some additional tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Hanoi.

Currency and Language

The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). While credit cards are accepted in many establishments, it's a good idea to carry some cash for smaller vendors and street food stalls. English is spoken in most tourist areas, but learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases can enhance your experience.


Hanoi experiences a tropical climate with distinct seasons. The best time to visit is during spring (March to April) or autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters can be cool and foggy.

In conclusion, Hanoi beckons travelers with its rich history, architectural wonders, vibrant festivals, and tantalizing cuisine. Exploring the city's ancient sites, experiencing the Christmas celebrations, and savoring the diverse flavors of Hanoi foods are just a few highlights of what this enchanting city has to offer. Armed with useful visitor information and a sense of adventure, visitors can fully immerse themselves in the beauty and culture of Hanoi, Vietnam.


In conclusion, St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi, also known as the Hanoi Cathedral, is a magnificent landmark and a must-visit attraction for tourists. Its stunning French Gothic architecture, rich history, and vibrant atmosphere make it an iconic symbol of Hanoi. The cathedral holds a special place in the heart of the local Catholic community and is a place of worship and cultural significance.

While exploring Hanoi, visiting St. Joseph's Cathedral is a great opportunity to delve into the city's diverse religious heritage. Surrounding the cathedral, there are plenty of other remarkable places to visit in Hanoi, such as the Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature, and the Old Quarter. These attractions offer incredible insights into the city's history and culture.

Additionally, Hanoi is also known for its delicious cuisine. The city boasts a wide array of delectable street food options that tantalize the taste buds, including local specialties like pho, banh mi, and bun cha. Exploring the food in Hanoi Vietnam is a culinary adventure that should not be missed.

Whether you are drawn to St. Joseph's Cathedral for its religious significance, architectural beauty, or cultural allure, a visit to this iconic landmark and the surrounding areas promises an enriching experience of Hanoi's history, religious practices, and flavorful culinary delights.

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