The attractive redbrick bulk of the late nineteenth-century Notre Dame Cathedral straddles the northern reach of Dong Khoi. Aside from the few stained-glass windows above and behind its altar, and its marble relief Stations of the Cross, the interior boasts only scant decoration. There’s plenty of scope for people-watching, however, as a steady trickle of Catholics pass through in their best silk tunics and black pants, fingering rosary beads, their whispered prayers merging with the insistent murmur of the traffic outside. A statue of the Virgin Mary provides the centrepiece to the small park fronting the cathedral, where cyclo drivers loiter and kids hawk postcards and maps. Take a close look at her face, as on occasion locals swear they have seen her shed tears.

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