Cua Bac Church – a must-see site in Hanoi
Cua Bac is a Roman Catholic church located at 56 Phan Dinh Phung Street, Hanoi. It was built in 1932 and originally named Church of Martyrs (French: Église des Martyrs) by the French administration of Indochina aspart of Hanoi’s urban plan supervised by Ernest Hébrard.
Nestled under the shade of old trees at the intersection of Phan Dinh Phung and Nguyen Bieu streets, Nha Tho Cua Bac is a nice destination for an afternoon walk. As it is near the Northern Gate of the Thang Long Royal Citadel, thus the name – Nha Tho Cua Bac. Cua Bac means Northern Gate while Nha Tho means church.
Today, Cua Bac is one of the three major churches of Hanoi, together with Ham Long Church and Saint Joseph Cathedral. The church’s architecture reflect the marriage between French and Vietnamese architecture. The design indicated significant influence from the Art Deco movement and eclectic style. The whole structure is within the basilica concept and the details are more innovative and eclectic. The roof tile is in the traditional style of Vietnam. The harmony of the church with the surrounding green area is another element of Vietnamese style. The arrangement went against the common rule of symmetry which can be seen in authentic basilicas. Here, a bell tower is aligned to the right in balance with the central arch where a French-flower window casts sunlight in 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 people can be in the praying room at the same time.
The church is widely known among expats in Hanoi as it carries out regular church service for expats every Sunday. The service is in English as well. It is a nice destination if you have a little time for wondering around this green neighborhood of Hanoi. Plus, you can incorporate the trip with 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 just around the corner. Thanks to its smart design and meticulous construction, this holy place will continue to be one of essential historical sites of Hanoi.