The Reunification Palace

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 Situated in the District 1, a short walk from Ben Thanh market, following Le Loi Street away from the market circle and turning left onto Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street. The Palace  was first called the Norodom Palace  and was built for the French Governor General in 1868.

 In 1945, the Palace was the headquarters for the Japanese after the defeat of the French. In 1962, home to President Ngo Dinh Diem under the South Vietnamese government and renamed the Independence Palace after the original Palace had been destroyed in a bombing raid by Diem’s own air force. In 1966, it was home to South Vietnam's second president Nguyen Van Thieu till 21st April 1975.

 

On April 30 1975, North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the Independence Palace ending three decades of wars. These tanks No. 843 are still there now.  A North Vietnamese soldier, Mr. Bui Quang Than, ran up the steps and unfurled a victory flag on the 4th-floor balcony of the Palace, which was then renamed the Reunification Palace.

 

The Palace is a famous site to visit when travelers come to Ho Chi Minh City. Coming here, tourist will have a great experience about a historical building in Vietnam. The overall architecture and interior details of this 1960s building are really fantastic. The proportions are grand but not inhuman. Interior lights are soft and the ventilation system is superb. The interior finishes are quietly opulent, the furniture, art, light fittings, carpets and floor tiles are a wonderful mix of texture, color and shape. There are so many small but meticulous details such as stairs and balustrades showing the competence of the architect who designed such a wonderful building.

 

Tourists can go up each level, seeing all the reception rooms. Just for the décor is interesting enough which hasn't been changed since 1975. On the roof is a Huey helicopter next to the two spots where the bombs were dropped by a South Vietnamese fighter pilot, in his failed attempt to kill Diem. A small kiosk sells drinks on the roof. Tourists can have a quick drink then go to the place which is the real reason to visit the Palace  - the basement. It is not exactly as it was in 1975 as the desks have been cleared of paper, making the rooms feel clinical. Desks are empty, except for typewriters or telex machines. It is like reading a dry history textbook in a haunted house. Or, to be more precise, it is a magic experience in the Freudian sense of the term - it feels both real and unreal at the same time.

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