Sapa Stone Church

Known as the heart of the foggy town, Sapa Stone Church has become a popular meeting point for almost all tourists when traveling to this charming Northwest land.

The official name of this relic is Our Lady of the Rosary Church (Nhà Thờ Đức Mẹ Mâm Côi). This architectural work was built with natural monolithic stone, so the locals call it the Stone Church or Sapa Stone Church.

sapa stone church

1. Ancient cathedral in the middle of a foggy town

This cathedral does not have a specific address assigned a number, which is simple to recognize as soon as you arrive at the intersection of Ham Rong and Pham Xuan Huan streets. Also, you can find this place not far from Sapa Museum, within 300 meters.

  • Add: Ham Rong Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam.
  • Ticket price: Free
  • Visiting time: 7 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday; Sunday, opening hours: 9 am to 6 pm.

2. Feng shui and spiritual terrain of Sapa Stone Church

The church was built in 1926 by French missionaries. This building can be considered one of the oldest religious works with French architecture that still exists intact to this day in Sapa.

The first impression of this architectural work is probably its prime location, in the heart of Sapa, at the roundabout of Thach Son, Ham Rong, and Pham Xuan Huan streets. So, no matter where you are in this town, you can see Our Lady of the Rosary Church.

sapa church at night
The church is a famous gathering place for the locals and tourists, even at night. ©BÁO LÀO CAI ĐIỆN TỬ

Not only does it have a convenient location for transportation, but this destination is also highly appreciated for its feng shui geographical factors.

With its back against the sturdy Ham Rong Mountain in the West, facing the large flat land in the East, this Stone Church becomes a convergence point to attract natural energy.

From a spiritual perspective, this position is perfect for receiving the shining energy of heaven and nature, helping to increase the church’s power.

3. The diverse sections of a century-old cathedral

This 100-year-old cathedral has a 6,000 square meter campus, including seven main sections: the church area, the parish house, the priest’s house, the angel’s residence, the livestock area, the front yard, the Holy garden, and the fence.

sapa church in fog
The church looks more holy in fog. ©BÁO LÀO CAI ĐIỆN TỬ

Among them, the most prominent building attracting a large number of visitors is the cathedral area. This cathedral has an area of 500m2, including 7 compartments and a bell tower up to 20m high. Inside the bell tower, there is still a bell cast in 1932, weighing 500kg, 1.5m high, and having a resounding radius of about 1km. This bell is placed on a stand made of Pomu wood.

Another vital project is the Angel Residence. The house has adequate space for important activities, such as medical examination and treatment; a place for travelers to stay overnight; an area for culinary and cooking activities; a sanitation facilities area; and a basement.

In addition, the front yard and holy garden are also airy and spacious. These sections are where vibrant community cultural activities often occur, attracting lots of locals and tourists to participate.

4. Highlights in the church to explore

4.1. An artwork created from naturally carved stone

The church was the result of talented construction masters at that time. This project looks like an artwork created by thousands of meticulously carved natural stone blocks and does not follow any fixed pattern. The stone blocks stick together with a mixture of lime, sand, and molasses.

sapa stone church lao cai
The main material is stone used, so the locals call it the Stone Church of Sapa. ©Dang Hong / pexels

A large and majestic cathedral born from purely natural materials still exists firmly through years of ups and downs in history. That work has become a symbol of Sapa nowadays.

Visiting this Stone Church, you certainly cannot help but admire the construction techniques that date back hundreds of years. The more you observe the delicate connection of each stone, the more you realize the level of diligence and meticulousness in each operation to create this majestic cathedral.

4.2. Exploring unique Gothic architecture

Talking about the beauty of the Stone Church of Sapa, it is impossible not to mention the unique Gothic architecture in this holy cathedral.

sapa church
The internal architecture of Sapa Cathedral. ©Ha Pham from Pixabay

The first feature is the pointed dome system. From the roof and dome to the bell tower, all have a pointed structure. This architectural style helps the entire project exude elegance and magnificence. This design is also a factor that makes the space inside the cathedral become spacious and airy.

The ceiling was made from a mixture of lime, straw, and iron. However, after many restorations, up to now, only the bell tower area still retains this original structure. Despite that, we are not sure whether you can have the opportunity to visit this typical bell tower or not.

The beauty of Gothic architecture at this cathedral also lies in the system of 32 stained glass windows to let in light. On each stained glass pane is a picture of God or the Virgin Mary with delicate and vibrant colors and lines. Although over a hundred years ago, these stained glass panels are still attractive to viewers.

In addition, the right cross wing also has a wall made rough by the builders. This intent brings the feeling of time-flowing stalactites on the ancient, quiet wall. From the writer’s perspective, this location is great for creating beautiful photos. Let’s try it!

It can be said that Sapa Stone Church is a typical representative of one of the hundred-year-old Gothic architectural works that still exist intact in Vietnam. This architectural style contributes to the splendid beauty of the cathedral and enriches the Vietnamese architecture.

In particular, on rare occasions when it snows in Sapa, the church is covered with a layer of white, sparkling water cotton, adding to the quiet and majestic beauty of the cathedral.

visit sapa stone church
Many tourists visit Sapa Stone Church every day. ©BÁO LÀO CAI ĐIỆN TỬ

4.3. Participating in the love market right in the square in front of the church

Another exciting activity for you when visiting Sapa Stone Church every Saturday is participating in the Sapa Love Market. This typical love market in the Northwest is held on weekend evenings right at the square in front of the church.

Fun, imbued with the cultural identity of the Northwest ethnic groups, colorful, the sound of trumpets, flutes, and love songs all night long, echoing throughout the mountains and forests of Sapa are what you will enjoy when coming to one of the unique markets in Vietnam. It is truly an activity you should not miss.

If your trip doesn’t coincide with a Saturday or Sunday, that’s alright. Then, you can still spend your time in the front yard to take photos or play with the H’Mong people in traditional costumes.

local person at sapa church
A local person in front of the cathedral. ©Quyen Pham Xuan / pexels

You can also meet and interact with H’Mong and Dao people from neighboring villages, such as Cat Cat Village. Also, you can buy small souvenirs made from brocade, such as bags, hats, scarves, shirts, dresses, bracelets, etc., or enjoy tasty local food in Sapa. These small activities can bring you a lot of excitement and interesting experiences.

Of course, don’t forget to take beautiful photos before leaving. Who knows, it will be the most valuable souvenir you can get at this ancient church.

Through the ups and downs of time, Stone Church of Sapa is still majestic in the heart of the locals, dim in the mist.

Pick up your backpack and take a trip to the lovely mountains and forests of Northwest Vietnam, discovering the ancient and magnificent beauty of this Stone Church. We are always here to assist you any time you need.

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.