I continued to explore the Dinh Thống Nhất (Independence Palace / Reunification Palace), Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. (See Dinh Thống Nhất (Independence Palace / Reunification Palace), Ho Chi Minh City – part 1 of 2 for more information and photos.)
The Palace certainly has a very luxurious feel to it with each room clearly kitted out with the best furniture and carpets available at the time. The place is also a “time capsule” of 1970s “architecture” and “taste”.
The Palace even has its own theatre and cinema…
But the room that intrigued me the most (apart from the rooms I was later to see in the basement), was the “1970s a games room”. The room was absolutely full of 1970s style furniture.
Love the barrel bar!
On the top of the Palace is the “Salon of the 4 Cardinal Directions of Peace”, which was also called the meditation room (photo below). The architect of the Palace, Ngo Viet Thu, intended it as a place where the President could reflect and think before taking decisions that determined the country’s future. However, President Nguyen Van Thieu used it as a “party room” in which he could entertain up to 100 guests. He had a high-quality hardwood dance floor installed, and 12 mm thick blast-proof glass.
On 30 April 1975 at 11:30 am Lt Bui Quang Than raised the flag of the Provisional Revolutionary Government on the flag pole directly above the room, and in doing so signalled the end of the Vietnam War.
Below the Palace, in the basement, were the “military” rooms. Whereas the Palace above had an open airy feel, the basement felt dark and claustrophobic.
The first room you enter in the basement was the “Command Centre”. The heavily shielded room was used as a military intelligence coordination centre. The walls were lined with maps providing an overview of the ongoing military operations. The first map showed the country divided at the 17th Parallel as proposed in the 1954 Geneva Accord. This division divided the country into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North and the Republic of Vietnam in the South. A second map showed the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And a third map of the military activities in the northern military zones.
The basement, as you’d expect, contained a lot of old military equipment, including (what I assume) were racks of communications equipment.
The basement did have a very eerie feel, with long dark corridors stretching off into the distance.
Below, is a photograph of the “President’s Bedroom” in the basement. Just like his office several falls above it was surprisingly spartan.
My visit to the Dinh Thống Nhất (Independence Palace / Reunification Palace) in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, was very interesting. The outside of the building seemed remarkably familiar, and as I discussed in an earlier post I am still not sure whether this familiarity was due to remembering news bulletins and newspaper photographs from when I was a child, or images from Vietnamese War movies, and/or documentaries.
It was interesting to walk around the Palace and reflect upon what must have been going on in this building in 1975. It was also interesting to see such a remarkable “time capsule” of 1970s architecture and style. The place is remarkably well preserved.
Foursquare: Independence Palace