The Divine Features Of Hue's Ancient Phu Cam Cathedral
Phu Cam Cathedral is located on Phuoc Qua Hill, in Phuoc Vinh Ward, Hue City. It was one of the most famous and oldest churches of the city, with ancient architecture, large space, and is surrounded by other religious buildings of the church.
Phu Cam Cathedral has a long rich history and culture, which was designed by the famous architect, Ngo Viet Thu, whose works were greatly honored by the city, and some have become symbols of Hue, such as Hue University of Education, Huong Giang Hotel Resort & Spa, and Century Riverside Hotel Hue.
Hundreds years ago, the cathedral used to be a bamboo chapel located near An Cuu River and was built by Priest Langlois (1640-1770) in 1682. Two years later, the priest constructed a large stone church in Phuoc Qua hill. Despite being described as a one-of-a-kind construction ever constructed and admired by Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan and mandarins, the cathedral was completely destroyed in 1698 under Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu's reign (1691 - 1725).
After two long centuries, in 1898, Phu Cam Cathedral was reconstructed by Bishop Eugène Marie Allys. It was not until 1902 that the church was completed, and reflected Gothic architecture in its design. On the two sides of the cathedral, there are two bell towers that have a cylindrical shaft, round roof, and medium height. The two towers were connected by a stair built at the second story. However, it was again replaced by a new structure in the 60s, since it was not enough space for a large number of religious followers attending the cathedral.
In 1960, after the Diocese of Hue was elevated to Archdiocese and Archbishop Phêrô Máctinô Ngo Đinh Thuc from Vinh Long to assume the office of Archbishop of Hue, he destroyed the whole old Cam Cam church and started to build the new cathedral with the project made by architect Ngo Viet Thu.
After all the difficulties and changes, in May 2000, Phu Cam Cathedral was completed by architect Ngo Viet Thu.
The church was constructed on a cross-shaped foundation. One of its ends faces the south, while the other faces the north. The church was not only constructed in modern techniques but also decorated with western classical art. Pillars are molded close to the wall, running bending forward, they look soft. Four corners, each with three pillars rising out, forming a space wide enough to enclose the sanctuary and the altar.
Along with the reinforced concrete structure are traditional materials such as stone, wood, and terracotta tiles. There are two rows of colored glass windows located in the upper interior of the Cathedral.
When they built the cathedral, different factors such as the weather, locality, etc, that could affect the exterior were all well-studied.
Inside, there is a cross made of steel and concrete on a round pillar. The Cathedral has a marble altar located in a small round-shaped space. The building has two wings extending to the right and left; the tomb of the former archbishop Philippe Nguyen Kim Dien (1921-1988) is on the left and a shrine presenting a saint is on the right. In front of the building are two statues: Saint Phero is on the right and on the left is Saint Paulo and other missionaries of the Phu Cam diocese. Ngo Viet Thu had combined the old and modern architecture to help create a sacred but also friendly atmosphere and look.
Phu Cam Cathedral today is highly appreciated in terms of historical and art values.
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