Presidential Palace

Hanoi, Vietnam | C.1906

Photo Credit: Nic Hilditch-Short

This elegant mustard-yellow building has a history more eye-popping than its color. Now home to Vietnam’s current president, the regal structure has been at the epicenter of major changes that took shape in the country over the 20th Century.

Constructed in 1906 by the French government, the mansion is a relic of Vietnam’s colonial past. Dubbed “French Colonial,” this type of Italianate architecture can be found throughout Ha Noi, with many of the city’s civic structures designed by architect Auguste Heri Vildieu. While the design elements were distinctly European, the building’s golden paint is unique and exhibits how many buildings of this era were the result of the fusion of two cultures.

Following the independence of North Vietnam in 1954, it was here that leader Ho Chi Minh met with state officials and foreign ambassadors. Not wanting to associate himself with the former French government, Minh built a traditional Vietnamese stilt house behind the lavish mansion. Running the country through the Vietnam War from this (less elegant) spot, Minh would live on the grounds until his death in 1969. Following the completion of the conflict in 1975, the Presidential Palace and its gardens were made into a historical site, and the presidents of Vietnam have since run the country from its ornate halls.

Still a functioning government building, the palace itself cannot be toured, but its lush gardens provide a paradise of greenery for any visitor. Strolling along the pebbled pathways provides a perfect setting to ponder what’s next for this structure and the Vietnamese people. After many years of war and change, it’s a peaceful stop—for a small fee of course.

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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