Independence Palace, also known as Independence Hall or Reunification Hall, is an original architectural work which carries a number of historical values of Ho Chi Minh City. This palace was started constructing on July 1st 1962 and then was inaugurated on November 31st 1966. It was carried out by the designing group of the architect Ngo Viet Thu.
Independence Palace during historical times
In 1868, France decided to build a residence building to be the Governor's edifice at the centre of Sai Gon City (Ho Chi Minh City now) and gave it a name of Norodom Edifice. The project was finished constructing in 1871. From 1887 to 1945, many French Governors used this edifice as a place for living and working.
On March 3rd 1945, when Japan overthrew France, Norodom Edifice became the office of Japanese authorities in Vietnam. Since Japan lost in World War II in September 1945, France cam back to dominate the South of Vietnam and Norodom Edifice belonged to French government at Vietnam once again.
On September 7th 1945, Norodom Edifice was handed over from the representative of France's government to the power representative of contemporary Sai Gon, the Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem. Ngo Dinh Diem decided to change the name of this edifice into Independence Palace. Since then, Independence Palace became the residence of Ngo Dinh Diem's family and was the place witnessing many political upheavals of the country Vietnam.
On February 27th 1962, two pilots of Sai Gon's army bombarded and broke down the entire main part of the palace. Because it was impossible to restore the palace, Ngo Dinh Diem razed it to the ground and built up a new palace on that ground, based on the design of the architect Ngo Viet Thu.
The architectural beauty of Independence Palace
The palace was established on the ground of 4,500 square metres with the total using area of 20,000 square metres. It includes four areas: the major housing area having three storeys, two mezzanines, one terrace, one grounding floor and one basement, with totally 95 rooms (but now only some rooms are available for visiting); a two-storey residential quarter facing Nguyen Du Street which is now the workplace of the board of managers of the palace; a two-storey and four-house area at the corner of Nguyen Du Street and Huyen Tran Princess Street which is the guest room quarter of the government's office; and at last a housing area at the corner of Huyen Tran Princess Street and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street which is today the resting area of executives and employees of the palace. More than 100 rooms here were decorated following different styles, depending on the purpose of using. They include the festivity room, the boardroom of the cabinet assembly, the workroom of the President and Vice-President, the room for referring credentials, the banquet room, and so on. In addition, there also have a semicircular lotus pond at two sides of the veranda to the central chamber and a solemn corridor.
The palace has the height of 26 metres and is located in a large precinct of 12 hectares with shading trees. The overall architecture of this palace was designed by the architect Ngo Viet Thu and followed the traditional architectural style which reflects precisely the Eastern rites as the characteristics of Vietnam nation. Taking a general look, the shape of this palace made up the word "CAT" which means "good fortune and lucky". The centre point of the palace is the position of the room for referring credentials. The terrace has the shape of the word "KHAU" (i.e. "mouth") in order to dignify education and freedom of speech; in the middle there is a flagstaff making up a hanging stroke (vertical stroke) to create the word "TRUNG" (using Han ideogram of China) with the meaning that it must be "faithful and loyal" if you want to pursue democracy. In addition, the horizontal stroke made from the eaves forms the word "TAM" (i.e. "three"). All these strokes and lines have expressed the opinion of "Democracy needs three things: people, perspicacity, and power". Furthermore, these three horizontal lines connecting with the vertical line make up the word "VUONG" (i.e. "King"). And the rostrum above contributes to create the word "CHU" (i.e. "host") to symbolize for the independence of the country.
The front side of the palace that contains the second and third floors together with the eaves at the main path and two wooden pillars under the eaves has the shape of the word "HUNG" (i.e. "prosperous") with the hope for the everlasting prosperity of the country. The architectural beauty of the palace is also manifested by the curtain having the form of noble bamboo joints that surrounds the second floor and has the effect of both contributing to the palace's beauty and taking sunshine from outdoors.