What to see
The Church had the original name of the Church of Martyrs. The church was under construction in 1932 in an initiative by the French government of the Indochina. The project was wholly under supervision of the respectable architect and urban planner- Ernest Hebrard. He was also known for his urban plan for the reconstruction of the Thessaloniki center in Greece after the Great Fire of 1917.
Together with St. Joseph Cathedral and Ham Long Church, Nha Tho Cua Bac has been one of three major Roman Catholic churches in Hanoi. Nestled under the shade of old trees at the intersection of Phan Dinh Phung and Nguyen Bieu Street, Nha Tho Cua Bac is a nice destination for an afternoon walk. As it is near to the Northern Gate of the old Royal Citadel, thus the name – Nha Tho Cua Bac. In which, Cua Bac means Northern Gate while Nha Tho means church.
The church’s architecture is an essence of the marriage between French and Vietnamese architecture. The design indicated significant influence from the Art Deco movement and eclectic style. The whole structure is with in the basilica concept meanwhile the details are more innovative and eclectic. The roof tile are in the traditional style of Vietnam. The harmony of the church with the surrounding green is another element of Vietnamese style. The arrangement of structure went against the common rule of symmetry which can be seen in other authentic basilicas. Here, a bell tower is aligned to the right in the balance with the central arch where a French-flower window casts the sunlight into the praying room.
The church yields a peaceful air with an aim for release. Despite the enormous size, the actual room for praying is not remarkable. Only about seven hundred prayers can be in the praying room at the same time. The church is widely known among expats in Hanoi as it carries out the regular Church service for Hanoi expats every Sunday. The service is in English as well. It is a nice destination if you have a little time for wondering around through this green neighborhood of Hanoi. Plus, you can incorporate the trip to an old gate of the old citadel with the walk to this church. One more destination is the excavation site of the royal palace which is also just around the corner.