Sapa is an attractive tourist destination in the northwest of Vietnam. Beside a lot of imposingly natural landscapes, Sapa also owns some strikingly architectural structures and one of the most famous ones is the ancient stone church. Thanks to its unique French architecture, it becomes an indispensable place attracting a lot of tourists in Sapa tours to visit all year round.
1/ The prime location
Geographically, the ancient stone church is nearly surrounded by Ham Rong Mountain in the back, creating an extremely imposing scenery for the church. In the front side, there is a large and flat ground which is used to hold some outdoor activities during periodical festivals of ethnic groups. Especially, located at the center of Sapa Town, the ancient stone church deserves to be recognized as the symbol of this cloudy town. Wherever you stand, you can still see the church along with two other French buildings including Chu Cau Villa (now Hoang Lien Hotel) and the old district committee office (now the headquarters of Lao Cai Tourist Information Center). All of them form a symmetrical triangular shape with a distinct French architectural style in Sapa. Moreover, a remarkable feature of the church is its face position. To be specific, it orients to the East that is also the sunrise direction, thus making the church more brilliant thanks to a plenty of sunlight thought to be sent from God in the local belief. Likewise, the back of the church is on the West because this is the place where Kito God was born.
2/ The impressive French architecture
In fact, the ancient stone church is also known as Church of Our Lady. In 1985, the French began to build it in Sapa. As for its architecture, the church was designed in the style of Romanesque and Gotic architecture and it is fortunately still intact nowadays. In your Sapa tours, you can admire it through the soaring lines of elegant roofs, domes and belfry with the pyramidal shape. Generally, the church was mainly built with marble while its roof was tiled and its ceiling was whitewashed. In particular, all of its walls and floors were made of hewn stones thus making the church much reliably solid. Through a large number of punctilios, it shows the artistic skills in the architecture of French architects in the previous time.
In addition, the total area of the church is quite large with about 6000 square meters. Therefore, people have divided it into some different areas such as sanctuary, angel house, holy garden, fences and so on. In which, the angel house consists of a basement, a kitchen, a churchyard, a restroom and three upper floors used for the sick or the overnight travelers. Furthermore, with 500 square meters in width, the sanctuary of the church has 7 chambers and a belfry with over 20 meters in height. Inside this area, there is an ancient bell which was seamless in 1932. Interestingly, when the bell strikes, the sound can spread over 1 kilometer to some ethnic villages in Sapa.
3/ The life of local people near the ancient stone church
The area near the ancient stone church is an ideal place to do business and hold some traditional activities. Usually, ethnic people daily gather together at this place to exchange goods and meet one another, which can not only help them make ends meet but also broaden their relationships. On every Saturday night, in particular, there is a special market called “Love Market” operating near the church. It is a highlight in your Sapa tours to discover one of the fine long-standing characteristics of ethnic groups in Sapa. Besides, the prayer activities should also not be overlooked when visiting the ancient stone church. It makes the scenery of Sapa at night much more charming and sparkling.