Phat Diem Stone Church, Vietnam
Phat Diem Stone Cathedral is a prime example of blended Eastern and Western architecture. Visitors to Ninh Binh come here to see an aesthetic shaped by Vietnamese Catholicism, built toward the end of the French colonial reign. On the outside, the cathedral looks traditionally Vietnamese, but inside the church looks more distinctly European.
The cathedral faces a small lake, which is considered auspicious in Eastern architecture, next to a statue of Jesis.This is an enormous cathedral that took 24 years to build, and you can see the time invested in the intricacies of the carvings that combine Eastern and Western architecture – there’s a carving of Christan cross resting on a lotus flower on the church’s front gate. It’s worth stepping inside to see more of the carved reliefs. The main building has a bell tower that resonates over many miles, and visitors can climb to the third floor of the church for a sweeping view.
A guided tour can give you more information about the church’s and the bell tower’s laborious construction. The main structures are made from wood, as well as limestone harvested from the nearby mountains. It has been restored since a 1972 bombing, and these days doesn’t look much worse for wear.