Former Presidential Palace

Independence Palace also known as Reunification Palace, built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a witness of history at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Post date: 16-03-2017

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Independence Palace also known as Reunification Palace, built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a witness of history at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly call Sai Gon city), Vietnam.

In 1868, the former Norodom Palace was a residence for the French governor-general of Cochin-China. When the French departed, the palace became home to the South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem who was unsuccessful attempted to kill by his own air force bombed the palace in 1962. The president ordered a new residence to be built on the same site, the new building was completed in 1966, but Ngo Dinh Diem had no chance to see because he was killed by his own troops in 1963.

The succeeding South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, named the Independence Palace and stayed here until his departure in 1975. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon regime when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. In 1976, the palace has been changed the named as Reunification Palace and the building now functions as a museum for visiting.

Surrounded by royal palm trees, Reunification Palace’s architecture – designed by Paris-trained Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu – is a blend of traditional ritual and modern architecture, typical of the 1960s with an airy and open atmosphere.

The palace was designed in Western modernist style but incorporated symbols that give it a subtle Fengshui. Most prominently, the main facade mimics the Chinese character for "prosperity", and the building's 3 horizontal lines and 1 vertical stroke shape derives from the old Vietnamese character for "good destiny". More easily discernible, all along the front facade, stylised concrete pillars imitate a bamboo grove and shield the glass walls within.

 

A North Vietnamese Army tank breaks through the gates of Saigon’s Independence Palace on April 30, 1975

A North Vietnamese Army tank breaks through the gates of Saigon’s Independence Palace on April 30, 1975.

 

A five-storey building including 2 basements, ground floor, 2 main floors, 2 mezzanines and a terrace for helicopter landing was both home and office for the president. The basement are the stark corridors and cramped offices of the war rooms, telecommunication equipment and war propaganda materials lay scattered along with maps of the war’s progress. The ground floor is arranged with meeting rooms, while upstairs is a grand set of reception rooms, used for welcoming foreign and national dignitaries. The middle floors are state rooms, designed to impress visiting dignitaries and government officials with their show of style, opulence, and power implication. Large conference and dining tables dominate meeting rooms decorated in a stylish mix of traditional and modern. The top floors close to an aerial escape route on a helicopter were the family’s living quarters of the President including a relaxation zone with a cherry red plush cinema and many other entertainment rooms such as card playing room, bar, nightclub.

The palace isn’t used much anymore. It’s an historical relic of an era that ended more than 40 years ago. Wandering around the Reunification Palace, visitors may be stirred contradictory emotions and reminded of important moments in the past of Vietnam war, especially the place where F5E fighter plane bombed on 8th April, 1975 and the two Chinese and Russian tanks that burst through the gates when US personnel evacuated by helicopter on 30th April, 1975.


 

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