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Saturday, 04.21.2018, 01:28am (GMT+7)  
     Saigon sights

Central Area

REUNIFICATION PALACE ( Dinh Thong Nhat )

April 30 in Vietnam is known as Liberation Day or Reunification Day. On this day, many people, especially veterans, like to go to places that help rekindle their memory of the war.

Reunification Palace, in the heart of downtown Ho Chi Minh City, was the headquarters of the Saigon regime and it has been kept as a remnant of the war.

The palace, used by the presidents of South Vietnam, has Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street in the front, Huyen Tran Cong Chua at the back, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai on the right and Nguyen Du on the left. Surrounded by a big area of lawn and high trees in its gardens, the main building is of an architectural style typical of the 1960s.

The first thought many visitors have is the memory of photos of a tank crashing through the palace's high iron gate on the morning of April 30, 1975, marking the end the Southern regime.

Guides take tourists through the palace, even down to the command bunker and tunnels that the regime's leaders used to escape.

 

WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM

War Remnants Museum is located on Vo Van Tan Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The War Remnants Museum was established in September 1975 in Ho Chi Minh City. It contains countless artifacts, photographs, and pictures documenting American war crimes.

 

Such documents illustrate the killing of civilians, spreading of chemicals, torturing of prisoners, and the effects of the war on the north. Planes, tanks, bombs, and helicopters are also on display. Outside the museum are some rooms displaying cultural products of Vietnam. Over the last 20 years, over 6 million visitors entered the museum. Among this number, nearly 1 million were foreign visitors, including American tourists.

 

MUNICIPAL THEATRE

Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre is located on Dong Khoi Street, Ho Chi Minh City, between the Caravelle and Continental Hotels.

With a rotating stage and a 800 - seat hall, the theatre meets the required standards for various artistic forms such as singing, music, dancing and traditional and modern dramas. 

 

Built at the beginning of 1897, under an original architectural design by French architect Ferret Eugene, who won a prize for theatre designing in July 1895, the Municipal Theatre was restored and renewed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the foundation of Saigon (1698-1998).

 

The architectural style and staple material of the Municipal Theatre of the old days are reflected in its stone veranda, a pair of white stone statues of pretty girls at the gate, the colourful granite tiled floors, the chandeliers, the bronze statues in front of the stairs, the audience's hall with its arch engraved with decorative designs and rows of statues on the two sides of the theatre.

 

In the years of the Second World War, France was involved in many battles. In Vietnam the revolutionary high tide shook the colonial regime. The Municipal Theatre was closed and deserted. During the French re-invasion of the South after 1945, the Theatre was restored. When the French invaders withdrew from the South under the Geneva Agreement in 1956, the Ngo Dinh Diem regime turned the theatre into the headquarters of the lower House, therefore the inside and outside structure of the theatre was changed considerably.

 

Regaining the power after the Spring 1975 Great Victory, the City authorities allowed a temporary repair of the theatre, returning its function to a central theatre. In 1995, a hundred years after the start of the initial building project, a restoration project was approved by the Municipal People's Committee. Many experienced historians and architects were invited to participate in this project. The theatre was renewed with new materials and equipped with state-of-the-art electric appliances, light and sound systems and fire and safety equipment. With a rotating stage and a 800 - seat hall, the theatre meets the required standards for various artistic forms such as singing, music, dancing and traditional and modern dramas. It is a good place for artistic performances by domestic and foreign art ensembles and well - known artists, who visit Ho Chi Minh City.   

 

HISTORY MUSEUM

Vietnam History Museum is located on No. 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

Through the different exhibits that can be seen, the museum portrays Vietnam’s history from ancient times (approximately 300,000 years ago) up to the 1930s, when Vietnam’s Communist Party was founded. 

 

The History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City was built in 1929 and was called "Musée Blanchard de la Bosse". Until 1956, it was renamed Saigon National Museum, and finally in 1975, after some renovations, the museum was expanded and became the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum.

 

The museum’s exhibits are divided according to the following topics:

 

- Rise of the Hung Kings

- Fight for Independence (1st-10th centuries)

- Ly Dynasty (11th-13th centuries)

- Tran Dynasty (13th-14th centuries)

- Le Dynasty (15th-18th centuries)

- Tay Son Dynasty (18th-19th centuries)

- Nguyen Dynasty (19th-middle of the 20th centuries

 

 

Other part of the museum displays specific characteristics of the southern area of Vietnam such as the Oc-Eo culture, the ancient culture of the Mekong Delta, Cham art, the Ben Nghe Saigon art, the Vietnamese ethnic minorities, and ancient pottery of various Asian countries. 

 

FINE ARTS MUSEUM

Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum is located on 97A Pho Duc Chinh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. 

The Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum was set up as the result of a decision made by the City’s People's Committee in September 1987, but it was not officially opened until 1991.

 

On the first and second floors, there are exhibits of works by Vietnamese and foreign artists. On the third floor are rooms with displays of works from between the 7th and early 20th century, including Champa and Oc Eo art work, Vietnamese antiques (ceramics, red-lacquered and gilded products, mother-of-pearl inlaid wood, etc.), traditional handicrafts of the Vietnamese ethnic groups and Western art. 

 

MARIAMMAN HINDU TEMPLE

This is only Hindu temple ( Chua ba Mariamman, 45 Truong Dinh str.,) still in use in Ho  Chi Minh city and is alittle piece of southern India in the center of the town. Though there are only 50 to 60 Hindus in Ho Chi Min city – all of them Tamils – This temple is also considered sacred by many ethnic Vietnamese and thnic Chinese.

The temple was built at the end of the 19th century and dedicated to the Hindu goddess Mariamman.

 

SAIGON CENTRAL MOSQUE

Saigon central mosque built by South Indian Muslims in 1935 on the site of an earlier mosque, the Saigon Central Mosque is an mmaculately clean and well-kept island of calm in the middle of the ustling Dong Khoi area. In front of the sparkling white-and –blue structure, with its four nonfunctional minarets, is a pool for the ritual ablutions required by Islamic law before prayers. Take off your shoes before entering the sanctuary.

 

XA LOI PAGODA

Xa Loi Pagoda is situated at 89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

The altar on the first floor, dedicated to Sakyamauni Buddha, is soberly decorated. The Sakyamuni Buddha statue is an excellent work of art made by Le Van Mau in 1954. 

 

Its construction was initiated in August 1956, according to the design of architects Tran Van Duong and Do Ba Vinh. The opening ceremony was held in May 1958. The South Vietnam Association of Buddhist Study built the pagoda to worship the remains of Buddha. The pagoda is open daily from 7 to 11 am and from 2 to 5 pm. 

 

AN QUANG PAGODA

An Quang Pagoda in Master Van Hanh Street is a meeting place for Vietnamese Buddhist leaders in Ho Chi Minh City and is a site of the Institute for Dharma Propagation. It has been at the focus of development of modern Vietnamese Buddhism as the seat of the School of Buddhist Studies and the headquarters of the Unified Buddhist Association of Vietnam.

 

Since its founding in 1948, its buildings have been expanded in number and size; they now include a library and a publishing house. But the importance of the pagoda lies in the large number of Dharma teachers who started from this place and the thousands of monks and nuns who received their training there.

 

MUSEUM OF HO CHI MINH CITY

( Bao Thang Thanh pho Ho chi Minh)

Add: 65 Ly tu Trong str., Tel: 829 9741

Housed in a greay , neoclassical tstruture built in 1986 and once known as Gia Long Palace( later the Revolutionary Museum) is a singualarly beautiful and amazing building

 

HO CHI MINH MUSEUM

Ho Chi Minh Museum is located on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City.

This museum mostly contains pictures and objects relating to President Ho Chi Minh.

 

The Dragon House Wharf, originally called Nha Rong, is located at the junction of the Ben Nghe Channel and the Saigon River. It was built in 1863 and served as the office of a French shipping company. From there, Nguyen Tat Thanh, later President Ho Chi Minh, set sail on a French ship named Admiral Latouche Treville in June 1911.

 

In September 1979, the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City chose Nha Rong as the Ho Chi Minh Museum–Dragon House Wharf. The name was taken from the two dragon-shaped symbols on the top of the building. Over time, approximately ten million people, local as well as foreign, have visited the Ho Chi Minh Museum. In addition, events such as artistic festivals and the introduction of new members into the Youth Union and Communist Party have been held in this museum. 

 

 

TON DUC THANG MUSEUM

Ton Duc Thang Museum is located on No.5 Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

Characteristic: The Ton Duc Thang Museum was established on the occasion of the late President Ton Duc Thang's centennial birthday anniversary (August 20th, 1988).  

 

It was established in the former residence of Tran Thien Khiem, Premier of the Saigon government prior to 1975. The exhibits are a lively reflection of the life and cause of President Ton Duc Thang. The museum has more than 600 items, documents and photos relating to the life of the later president, who is remembered as a great patriot and model fighter. President was the only Vietnamese who participated in the anti-war activities on a French warship on the Black Sea in 1917; these activities supported the success of the world's first proletarian revolution, the Russian October Revolution. He replaced President Ho Chi Minh in 1969. 

 

REVOLUTIONARY MUSEUM

Revolutionary Museum is located on No.65 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

The Revolutionary Museum used to be enlisted as the Governor of Nam Ky’s residence. 

 

The construction of the museum started in 1885 and was completed in 1890 under the design of French architect Alfred Foulhoux. Following that, the building became the residence of Japanese Governor Minoda. It was also the office of the Nam Bo Provisional Administrative Committee (1945) and of the Republic of France High Commissioner. The building was later reconverted into the residence of the Governor of Nam Ky. Until August 1978, the building was finally turned into the Ho Chi Minh City Revolutionary Museum.

 

The museum displays items related to the invasion of Vietnam by French colonialists, the founding of the Vietnam Communist Party, the anti-French resistance in Saigon-Gia Dinh (1945 to 1954), the anti-American movement, the national resistance of Saigon-Gia Dinh and the Ho Chi Minh Campaign. 

 

Greater Ho Chi Minh city

DUC BA CATHEDRAL (NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL)

Duc Ba Cathedral is located on Han Thuyen Street, facing down Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

Characteristic: The resplendent Governor’s Palace, completed in 1875, symbolized the regime’s political power in Asia. And five years later, the Duc Ba (Our Lady’s) Cathedral was inaugurated, and became the spiritual and cultural crucible of the French presence in the Orient. 

 

After the first French colonizing force arrived in Vietnam in the mid - 19thcentury, it took only 21 years before the country had a cathedral to match the hulking Gothic edifices of France itself. The cathedral is supposed to represent the glory of the French Empire. Yet, as is always the case with colonization, this attempt to import French traditions into Vietnam transformed the colonizers’ culture in the process. Even though the cathedral is built in a Western architectural style, it has a uniquely Eastern aspect.

 

Several architects put forward design proposals for the cathedral, but in 1877 the authorities selected Mr Bourard, who was famed for his religious architecture. He envisaged, and executed, a basilica-like structure with a square plan. The cathedral is composed of two main central bays with two sidereal corridors, with tall pillars and light coming in through sets of high windows, and a semi-circular shrine. The style follows a Roman pattern, although the outside contains some modifications: the cathedral’s vaults are Gothic, and a modern steel skeleton supports the whole building.

 

In 1894 a pointed minaret was added to the bell tower, at the behest of an architect named Gardes, who was also responsible for the Xa Tay Palace, the building that now houses the Municipal People’s Committee. The cathedral is a much smaller than those in France, but it was the largest in the French empire. The interior is very large: the principal shrine and two additional bays are 93m long, and reach 35m in width at one point. The semi-circular shrine at the rear seats a choir during services, and there are five chapels. The walls are made of Bien Hoa granite, combined with red tiles from Marseilles, all without coating. Red tiles from France were also used on the roofs, but they were later replaced with tiles of equal quality from Phu Huu. Natural light streams in through stained-glass windows which were made by the Lorin Company from the French town of Sartre.

 

The whole building is well-ventilated thanks to a system of air-holes placed above and under the windows. The belfry is 57m high. For a long time it was the highest structure in the city centre, and was the first thing an arriving traveller would see when approaching the city by boat. Six bells weigh a combined 25,850kg. In 1885, the floor was taken apart and new pillars were added, because the original foundation could not bear the cathedral’s weight. Stepping inside the cathedral, tourists see a line of Chinese characters eulogizing the Jesus’ mother, "the innocent and unblemished Virgin Mother", and stained-glass portraits of Vietnamese believers amid Asiatic plants. On the square in front of the cathedral, there is a statue of the Virgin Mother made of white marble, symbolizing peace. All told, it’s an unusual building: a Western architectural and religious style that has been transplanted into, and adapted to, the East. The colonizers were trying to impose French beliefs and customs onto Vietnam but once that culture arrived on Asia’s shores, it took on a life of its own. The cathedral is seen as a unique synthesis, adding an unmistakable Oriental flavour to an ancient Occidental recipe. 

 

GIAC LAM PAGODA

Giac Lam Pagoda is located at 118 Lac Long Quan Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City.

It is one of the city’s oldest pagodas with many Buddha statues made of brass and precious timber. 

 

Giac Lam Pagoda (also known as the Cam Son or Cam Dien Pagoda) was built in 1744, under the reign of Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat. Unlike many other local religious structures, it has not been renovated since 1900; the architecture, layout, and ornamentation remain almost unaltered. The scenery around the pagoda is picturesque and many people come here to write or recite poetry.

 

Standing in the front garden is a shining white statue of the Goddess of Mercy, perched upon a lotus blossom, a symbol of purity. Inside, on either side of the main altar, are statues of Ameda Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha, along with more representations of the Goddess of Mercy. Giac Lam Pagoda is open from 6 am to 9 pm. 

 

GIAC VIEN PAGODA

Giac Vien Pagoda is located on Lac Long Quan Street, District 11, Ho Chi Minh City.

It has the ancient architecture of the pagodas built in the Nguyen Dynasty of the 19th century, and typical characteristics of the southern area in terms of the architecture, design and arrangement of the worshipping shrines. 

 

In 1798, a monk who was in charge of taking care of the restoration of Giac Lam Pagoda, built a small pavilion for his daily prayers, called Quan Am Cac (Kwan Yin Pavilion). In the third year under king Tu Duc's reign (1850), the pavilion was rebuilt and named Giac Vien Pagoda. When building Dam Sen Tourist Park, the Management Board decided to preserve Giac Vien Pagoda intact and incorporate it into the park, making the park more attractive due to its cultural-historical value.

 

Giac Vien Pagoda has typical features, of southern Vietnam. The main shrine, also a big hall, is 360m² in area, and used to worship Buddha. To its east and west, there are corridors, a room for the monks to prepare clothing before assisting the Superior Monk, and a large and spacious compartment at the rear. Along the corridors, there are small altars with worshipping items. In particular, there are rows of wooden pillars engraved with parallel sentences. The letters are carved delicately and painted with red lacquer and trimmed with gold. Around them there are decorative designs of leaves and climbing plants. All 153 statues in the pagoda are made of jack wood. The faces and postures of the statues look honest and they are placed low, creating a close feeling between them and the viewers.

 

The most attractive items are 60 plates, which are engraved on both sides made of jack wood. They are made with gold. The most beautiful plate is engraved with 18 fat, honest and smiling Arhats, with each riding on the back of a buffalo, a cow, a pig, a goat... Some plates are engraved with birds, ducks, fish ... but all looking alive. Other plates are carved with fruits popular in the South, such as coconut, mangos teen, durian, rambutan… These wooden engravings are the only ones that have been kept intact in Vietnam.

 

The Buddhist spirit of the ancient Viet people, during their migration south, accepted different religious tendencies and sects, on condition that they were useful to society. This is clearly seen through the items preserved at Giac Vien Pagoda. For this reason, Giac Vien Pagoda became a centre for worshipping ceremonies and discussions on Buddhism of the six southern provinces in the 19th century- a prosperous time for buddhist followers and talents whose works remain valuable until today.

 

Giac Vien Pagoda has been classified by the State as a cultural relic and a mini-museum of wooden engravings of historical and artistic value. For this reason, it attracts a lot of researchers and visitors all year round. 

 

 

JADE EMPEROR PAGODA

Jade Emperor is as the best example of a Taoist pagoda in Vietnam from a tourism point of view, not just for its religious value but also for its sheer exuberance.

Entering the temple courtyard, visitors will encounter a small pool on the right full of large terrapins and, on the left, a series of enclosures containing dozens of tortoises that give it its local name of the ‘Tortoise Pagoda’. Usually, there will be women selling birds to be released by the purchaser to curry favour with the gods.

 

The interior is dominated by an effigy of the Jade Emperor, correctly addressed as 'Most Venerable Highest Jade Emperor of All-Embracing Sublime Spontaneous Existence of the Heavenly Golden Palace’. He is the head of the heavenly bureaucracy, governing spirits assigned to oversee the workings of the natural world and the administration of moral justice.

The gods in heaven behaved, and were treated, much the same as officials in the human world - worshipping them was a kind of rehearsal for dealing with the secular authorities. Demons and the ghosts of hell acted like bullies and outlaws threatening strangers in the real world and were treated accordingly. To avoid their attentions, people bribed them or invoked the martial forces of the spirit world’s officials to arrest them.

 

All these elements can be seen in the Pagoda. The mighty Emperor monitoring entry through the gates of heaven is flanked by his senior officers, one bearing a light to illuminate the path, the other wielding an axe to administer justice, and his other officials and lesser deities.

 

The King of Hell and his red horse are on the right of the chamber surrounded by the two gods of yin and yang, and four more gods who mete out punishment for evil and reward goodness. He looks towards the ‘Hall of the Ten Hells’, a room containing ten magnificently carved panes that vie with Hieronymus Bosch for depictions of the horrors awaiting the ungodly.

 

Next door, there is another room with twelve ceramic figures of women with many babies presided over by Kim Hoa, the protector of all mothers and children. Each figurine represents a particular human characteristic, good or bad, and one year of the 12 year Chinese calendar. Childless couples often visit this small chapel to pray to be granted a child.

To the left of the Jade Emperor in an enclosure containing Thien Loi, the god of lightning and other deities, is a life-sized effigy of a horse. This is also popular with women who seek fertility – they rub its flanks and neck and whisper their prayers in its ears.

 

Elsewhere around the walls are more effigies of figures from other religions, mainly Buddhism.

For an Occidental, making sense of the rich symbolism, decoration and ritual is almost impossible. A good guide can help to shed a little light into the complexity of Taoism, It takes many years to acquire a reasonable understanding of the faith.

 

LE VAN DUYET TEMPLE

The temple is reached by heading north from the city center on Dinh Tien Hoang , all the way to Phan Dang Luu str.

Dedicated to Marshal Le Van Duyet ( 1763-1831)

Le Van Duyet is the South Vietnamese hero who put down the Tay Son Rebellion and reunited Vietnam.

The temple's main sanctuary displays a strange collection of the Marshal's personal possessions: a stuffed tiger, a miniature mountain, whale baleen, carved elephants, crystal goblets, spears, and other weapons of war.

The Marshal is buried here with his wife.

 

 

TRAN HUNG DAO TEMPLE

Tran Hung Dao Temple is at 36 Vo Thi Sau Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

It was first erected in 1932 as a Buddhist pagoda bearing the name of Van An. In 1958, it was entirely rebuilt, featuring the architecture seen today, forming a T-shape with two-piled up roofs and eight curved corners adorned with dragon and phoenix figures. 

 

It is styled after northern Vietnamese temples and communal houses. Inside, there are many horizontal and vertical lacquered boards, as well as carved and meticulously inlaid incense tables. On the wall, there are pictures of Tran Hung Dao as he chased away Kublai Khan’s Mongol aggressors in the 13th century.

 

The greatest ceremonies at the temple occur over the New Year and on the 20th day of the eighth lunar month to celebrate Tran Hung Dao. The temple is open daily from 6 to 11am and from 2 to 6 pm. 

 

 

VINH NGHIEM PAGODA

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is located at 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Road, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

The pagoda is noteworthy for its ancient Asian architecture and the seven-storey Kwan-Yin tower

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was constructed between 1964 and 1971 in the area of 8,000m² following the design of architect Nguyen Ba Lang.

The Kwan-Yin Tower classic style of 35m seven-storey tower with strong Japanese influences was built with the assistance of the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Association. It is located on the left of the pagoda. This structure is the biggest of the Vietnam Buddhist Association.

A Devotee Relic four-storey Tower (Thap xa loi cong dong) with 25m high was erected behind the pagoda in 1982. 

 

CHO QUAN CHURCH

Add:133 Tran Binh Trong str.,

Built by the French about 100 years ago, cho Quan Church is one of the largest churches in Ho Chi Minh city. IT’s the only church in the city where the figure of Jesus on the altar hs neon halo. 




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