French colonial architecture beauty：同起街Dong Khoi Street Home to many French colonial buildings, Dong Khoi Street has witnessed many changes in Ho Chi Minh City. During the French occupation, Dong Khoi Street was called Rue Catinat. It became Tu Do or Freedom Street during the Vietnam War. When the Communists took over Saigon in the late 1970s, the name changed again to Dong Khoi, which means Total Revolution. The street has gone from being the centre of glamour in the French colony to the centre of sleaze and intrigue during the Vietnam War. In the late 70s and early 80s when commerce was a dirty word in post war Vietnam, Dong Khoi’s shutters came down. But a fourth era began in this street’s story almost two decades ago and Dong Khoi Street is once again at the commercial heart of the city.
Along Dong Khoi Street, there are a lot of handicraft shops, cloth and décor designers’ boutiques, local and international restaurants, huge shopping complex, and hotels. Especially, on this street are three original French architectural works: The Saigon Opera House built in 1897 by French architect Ferret Eugene, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica – a cathedral established by French colonists and constructed between 1863 and 1880 and Saigon Central Post Office (1891) designed and constructed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel. They are all famous tourist attractions which draw the attention of millions of visitors every year.
胡志明市大劇院(The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon Opera House) 胡志明市大劇院位於市中心第1郡，興建於1897年法國殖民時期(designed by French architect Eugène Ferret)，在當時稱為西貢歌劇院。1956年越南戰爭期間，此劇院成為越南共和國的下議院會場；1975年，北越共產軍隊佔領西貢，越南南北統一，這座建築才恢復原本的文藝設施功能。劇院平日不開放遊客參觀，不過每逢表演期間，劇院門口便熱鬧異常。
Its architectural style is influenced by the flamboyant style of the French Third Republic, with the façade shaped like the Petit Palais which was built in the same year in France. The house had a main seating floor plus two levels of seating above, and was capable of accommodating 1,800 people. The design of all the inscriptions, décor, and furnishings were drawn by a French artist and sent from France.
郵政總局(Saigon Central Post Office) 這間美麗的法式建築位於胡志明市市中心第1郡與西貢王公聖母教堂(Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica)相鄰，為巴黎艾菲爾鐵塔的設計師Gustave Eiffel所設計，興建於1886~1891年間，1892年正式啟用。這是郵政與電信總局，是越南最大的郵政局，同時也是法國殖民時期的第一座郵政局，建築風格充滿法式風情，拱型門窗、中央大廳的大鐘，加上均衡對稱的設計以及綠色的百頁窗，有著歐洲19世紀末的公共建築風格。
Being a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and French influences, this building fascinates tourists by its typical colonial French features, from exterior to interior decorations. It has a neoclassical architectural style.
Walking inside, the vaulted roof and arched windows are reminiscent of early European railway stations, rather than a post office in an Asian country.
Don’t ignore Mr. Duong Van Ngo – an old man sitting at the end of a long wooden table underneath a mural of Ho Chi Minh, behind the sign “Information and Writing Assistance/Public Writer”. Mr. Ngo has been working here since he was 17, as a polyglot public letter writer. Being the last letter writer in old Saigon, he says he never missed a day of work, not even during the wars. He speaks the languages of the former occupiers fluently to this day. p.s.Mr. Ngo learned French in school and English from American soldiers.
西貢王公聖母教堂(Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, officially Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception) 這座由法國人建造的聖母院因其磚紅色的外觀又名「紅教堂」。早在16世紀起，西班牙、葡萄牙和法國傳教士就已經陸續的將天主教傳入越南，至今全越南約有9百萬名的天主教徒，可說是亞洲地區繼菲律賓之後第2大的天主教國家。
p.s.Bishop Lefevre put the first stone for construction of the church on 28 March 1863. Initially, it was called Saigon Church. The name Notre-Dame Cathedral was given after Bishop Pham Van Thien held a ceremony to install the statue of Peaceful Notre Dame, made with granite from Rome, in 1959. In 1962, the Vatican conferred the Cathedral status as a basilica and gave it the official name of Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica.
City Hall：胡志明市人民委員會大廳Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Head office 位於胡志明市市中心第1郡的市政廳是胡志明市委員會辦公室，興建於1902年， 落成於1908年。原名「西社宮Hotel de Ville」，1975年改名為「胡志明市人民委員會大廳」，不對外開放。
A witness of history：統一宮Reunification Palace (formerly known as Independence Palace) 統一宮的前身為興建於法屬印度支那時期，作為交趾支那總督辦公室的諾羅敦宮(Norodom Palace, designed by the French in 1868))。
The complex covered an area of 12 hectares, including a palace with an 80-meter-wide façade, a guest-chamber capable of accommodating 800 people, with a spacious gardens covered by green trees and a lawn.
1954年法軍於奠邊府戰役失利後，根據日內瓦協定退出越南，諾羅敦宮被移交給越南共和國的總統吳廷琰(Ngô Đình Diệm)，更名為獨立宮。
1962年2月27日西貢軍隊的兩名叛軍飛行員對獨立宮投彈炸毀左半邊，由於無法修復，吳廷琰乃決定全部改建，聘請留學巴黎的建築師吳曰樹設計(Ngô Viết Thụ, a Vietnamese architect who won the First Grand Prize of Rome in 1955)，根據中國風水把平面設計為「吉」字，代表幸運之意，正面中央呈「興」字狀，祈求國家興盛(constructed on July 1st , 1962)。然而，此宮尚未建完，吳廷琰便遭刺殺身亡，因此1966年10月31日主持落成典禮者是阮文紹(Nguyễn Văn Thiệu)。
依風水，獨立宮坐落在一個「龍頭」上，因此該宮又稱為龍頭宮(Dragon’s Head Palace)。It includes 4 main floors, 2 mezzanines, ground floor, and a basement.
Credentials Presenting Room—The furnishings and pictures in this room are in fine Japanese-style lacquer-work, created by the artist Nguyen Van Minh. The larger painting in 40 small panels entitled “Declaration of victory over the Ming" depicts a famous scene from the reign of King Lê Lợi.
p.s.On August 12th, 2009, Reunification Palace was recognized as a special National Historical relic by the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
30-4 Park takes its name from Vietnam’s Reunification Day as April 30 marked the fall of Saigon. It offers a cool respite courtesy of its tall trees and it connects Reunification Palace with Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica.