Reunification Palace Bunker

Saigon, Vietnam | C.1966

Photo Credit: Thomas Combe

In 1868, a residence was built on this site for the French Governor General of Cochin-China, and the structure gradually expanded to become Norodom Palace.

When the French departed, and Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South, this palace in Ho Chi Minh city (then Saigon) became home to the South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, who survived an assassination attempt by his own air force in 1962. The aerial bombing destroyed much of the palace and it needed to be rebuilt, this time with a bomb shelter in the basement. Work was completed in 1966, but President Diem would never see the final product, as he was killed by his own troops in 1963.

The newly completed building was named Independence Palace and was home to the succeeding South Vietnamese president until the North Vietnamese invaded Saigon and crashed a tank through the front gates of the palace, cementing their victory in what has since become known as the “American War”. The negotiation conference between the North and South Vietnamese prompted a new name for the structure: Reunification Palace.

Today, Reunification Palace is primarily a tourist destination, but it is occasionally used for official government functions.

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