Back Heritage » Saigon » The Oldest House in Saigon

The Oldest House in Saigon

While Saigon houses many wonderful examples of colonial architecture, there are few buildings standing that predate the 1880s. After all, the city isn’t particularly old, having been a fishing village for much of its early history. So what is the oldest building in Saigon?

Behind the massive Archbishop’s house on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street in District 3 lies a small traditional wooden house. Built in 1790 for Nguyen Anh ally, Pierre Pigneau de Behaine, Bishop of Adran, who had helped Nguyen consolidate power in and around Saigon (at the time known as Gia Dinh), the house originally occupied a plot of land along the Thi Nghe Canal where the botanic garden now stands.

Following Pigneau’s death in 1799, the house remained in the hands of the city’s French bishops but was closed between 1811 and 1864 due to the ban on Catholicism by the Hue Royal Court.

French domination of Indochina in the mid 19th century saw the return of the Catholic Church and the house was moved to Alexander de Rhodes Street near the Cathedral. Shortly thereafter, in 1900, it was relocated to its current location and is used as a prayer house.

The house has undergone several major renovations - in 1945 and 1980, wooden walls and pillars were replaced by concrete to protect the structure against termites. Even so, the house’s shape and appearance have not been altered significantly from their original state.

[Photo via Old Saigon] 

Related Articles

in Saigon

10 Old Photos Of Carriages In Saigon

Before motorized transportation was the norm in Saigon, horse-drawn carts were used to move both goods and people.

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures (and History) of the Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House (aka the Municipal Theatre) is one of Saigon’s oldest buildings and one of the city’s best examples of classical French architecture. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Advertisements in Saigon

Before 1975, large advertisements were commonplace in Saigon. But after the American War and the fall of capitalism in the South, ads were considered a vestige of the old order and were heavily regula...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Art Deco Buildings in Saigon

Art deco is by far our favorite architectural style, one which luckily, Saigon has in spades. However, with each passing day, these buildings are being torn down to make way for modern structures whic...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Cars in Saigon

Though cars have been present in the country since the turn of the 20th century, decades of war (1941 – 1975) and an economic stagnation (1975 – 1986) drastically reduced the number of automobiles in ...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of People in Saigon

We often look to old buildings in order reconnect with the past since they are clear and static reference points. Though useful, another important window into the past is the day-to-day lives of peopl...

Partner Content