The stunning Franciscaines Misionnaires de Marie ruins caught my eye when I was driving around Dalat on the back of a motorbike. An urban explorer always spots an abandoned building from far away!
As I wasn’t sure about the safety of heading into abandoned buildings in Vietnam alone, I hired a bike and an English speaking guide who could translate for me if I ran into trouble. It was worth paying the 250,000 Vietnamese Dong because we were stopped as soon as we approached the entrance. But as soon as Hanh (my guide) explained I wanted to take photographs of the old Franciscan Mission buildings, I was granted permission and in we went. I could have kissed him!
Originally a monastery, chapel and house for monks and nuns, the architecturally stunning buildings were used by the Franciscans until the end of the Vietnam war in 1975 after which they housed the Lam Vien Hotel, Thang Long School and Tran Phu High School. Most doors in the buildings, including the crumbling chapel, are heavily locked and there’s a scary white dog chained up outside one of the rooms. I didn’t dare walk past him! I believe the buildings were also used by the Vietnamese government as some stage, so maybe the dog is guarding precious documents (wishful thinking!)! At present, one of the larger buildings beside the old church is being partly converted into a new University of Architecture, which is quite fitting!
Honestly, these ruins are probably the oldest, most beautiful abandoned buildings I’ve ever explored and photographed.