Quietly situated in the center of Sapa, Stone Church (as known as Holy Rosary Church) is one of a few remnants of the French colonization in Sapa. It was built in 1895 and demolished in 1952 by the French. After the second demolition by the Chinese in 1979, it was repaired in 1994 and since then, Stone Church has become an important place in which many cultural activities have been organized by ethnic minorities in Sapa. Going through many events of history in Sapa, Stone Church is considered the witness of Sapa’s history.
Stone Church stands right in the heart of Sapa and surrounded by a plenty of restaurants, hotels, and bars. Thanks to its great location, Stone Church is probably the first place that every visitor goes upon arrival in Sapa. If your hotel/hostel is in the town center, then it just takes a few minutes to get to see Stone Church. In the past, Stone Church’s location was carefully calculated by the French architects who wanted the church to be seen from four directions. Lying in a flat area, the ancient church is overlooked by Ham Rong Mountain. Therefore, after visiting Stone Church, you can take a walk to see and enjoy the stunning view from Ham Rong Mountain-the heaven of exotic flora and fauna.
The architecture of the inside and outside of the church still reflects the French culture and religion, which are noticeably presented in the walls, the roof, the windows, the bell tower and so on. Looked from outside, the ancient church resembles the shape of a crucifix originated from Gothic Roman architecture. The church area is comprised of seven compartments of more than 500 m2 and the 20-meter high bell tower in which there is a gigantic bell that is at the height of 1.5 meters and the weight of 500 kilos, which can resonate within a radius of 1 km. Going inside Stone Church, you will catch a sight of colorful windows, each presenting a period of Jesus’s life.
Nowadays, Stone Church is a popular place in which many traditional activities of the ethnic minorities are taken place. In every Saturday evening, the special market called “Love Market” is organized in front of the church. It is where the hill tribe women and men from nearby villages come and meet each other, which is considered a unique tradition of ethnic minorities in Sapa. The “Love Market” is where love blossoms between men and women there. They talk, sing and dance together to express their affection for the apple of their eyes. The sound of instruments such as flute, trumpet leaves and so on combining with sparkling light from the fire creates a cannot-be-more-romantic scene. It is also really fun to dance with local people there.
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