Old French buildings in Hanoi

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October 13th 2008
Published: October 13th 2008
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St Joseph's CathedralSt Joseph's CathedralSt Joseph's Cathedral

St Joseph's Cathedral (built in 1886) at Christmas 2007.
During the French rule in Vietnam from 1858 to 1954, many cathedrals, government offices, hotels and villas of French architecture were built. You can see them in different cities of Vietnam, such as Hanoi, Hải Phòng, Sapa, Đà Lạt and Sài Gòn.

Some areas of Hanoi city are called "French quarters", as many old French buildings are still preserved there. They are now used as government offices, embassies, Hanoi post office, schools, shops, hospitals or museums. My secondary school also is an old French building near Hanoi Opera House. I studied there for 3 years and my mother was a teacher at this school for a long time.

The two biggest cathedrals in Hanoi (St. Joseph's cathedral and Cửa Bắc cathedral) were also built by the French in the late 19th century. At Christmas, the cathedrals are beautifully decorated and many people visit the sites for taking photos.

A part of Hoả Lò prison is open as a museum. It was the place where American pilots were imprisoned during the American war and they called it "Hanoi Hilton Hotel".

According to an article dated 9 August 2012 on the Vnexpress, there are 1,586 old French villas in
Hàng Đậu water towerHàng Đậu water towerHàng Đậu water tower

This used to be a water tower in the past. During French occupation, 12,000 French troops were encamped in Hanoi. Two water plants were chosen (Yên Phụ & Đồn Thuỷ) in 1894 to provide clean water for soldiers in the center and in the Old Quarter. This water tower is called "Đài Đầu" (head reservoir) by the French. It belonged to the Yên Phụ water plant. This tower is 21.30m high and has a diameter of 19m. Now it's no longer used, so it's closed.
Hanoi, of which 562 villas are private owned, 1,024 villas are under State's management, and 42 villas in the central government area of Ba Đình district are not allowed to be owned by private sectors.

Biệt thự Pháp tại Hà Nội

Hiện nay trên địa bàn thành phố có 1.586 biệt thự do Pháp để lại. Trong đó có 562 biệt thự thuộc sở hữu tư nhân, 1.024 biệt thự thuộc sở hữu nhà nước, 42 biệt thự ở trung tâm chính trị Ba Đình không được phép tư nhân hoá. Hà Nội đã hoàn thành việc phân loại biệt thự thành bốn loại. Cụ thể, loại 1, là biệt thự có giá trị đặc biệt về văn hoá, kiến trúc, lịch sử, có quy mô lớn, vị trí đẹp, sân vườn còn nguyên bản; loại 2, biệt thự có vị trí đẹp, có giá trị về văn hóa, kiến trúc nhưng ít nhiều đã bị biến dạng, xuống cấp nhưng cần bảo tồn.

Biệt thự loại 3 là có giá trị trung bình về văn hoá, kiến trúc, đã bị lấn chiếm, cải tạo một phần được xem xét bảo tồn hoặc phá bỏ xây mới;
Hoả Lò prison Hoả Lò prison Hoả Lò prison

This prison was built by the French in the early 20th century and now it's open as a museum. During the American war, it was called "Hanoi Hilton Hotel" by American prisoners/pilots.
loại 4, biệt thự đã bị phá bỏ, xây nhà mới. Theo ông Tú, biệt thự thuộc loại 3 và 4 được ứng xử bình thường theo quy định của nhà nước. Tuy nhiên, một số biệt thự gắn với di tích văn hóa hoặc có giá trị kiến trúc thì phải được Sở Văn hóa thể thao và Du lịch, Sở Quy hoạch và Kiến trúc chấp thuận mới được cải tạo.

(Theo Vnexpress - Ngày 9/8/2012)

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 24


Institution St MarieInstitution St Marie
Institution St Marie

This institution is located next to Vietnam - Cuba hospital on Hai Bà Trưng street.
Hanoi rue Paul Bert Hanoi rue Paul Bert
Hanoi rue Paul Bert

This is my favorite BW photo of Hanoi in the old days, perhaps it was taken in the late 19th or early 20th century. The building in this photo is Hanoi Opera House, and the street name is Tràng Tiền at present. "Rue Paul Bert" was the French name in the past.
Long Biên bridgeLong Biên bridge
Long Biên bridge

"Hanoi Pont Paul Doumer" was the old name of this bridge over the Red River in Hanoi. At present, the bridge is over 100 years old.
Government Guest House Government Guest House
Government Guest House

This is the place where presidents from other countries are welcome upon their arrivals in Hanoi.
The 5-star Sofitel Metropole Hotel The 5-star Sofitel Metropole Hotel
The 5-star Sofitel Metropole Hotel

Picture of the hotel in the old days and today.
Shops by Hoàn Kiếm lakeShops by Hoàn Kiếm lake
Shops by Hoàn Kiếm lake

These shops are located at the center of Hanoi city.
Government Guest House Government Guest House
Government Guest House

Entrance gate to the Government Guest House.
My secondary schoolMy secondary school
My secondary school

My secondary school on Hai Bà Trưng street near the Opera House was the place where I studied for 3 years and my mother had taught here for many years.
One of Government officesOne of Government offices
One of Government offices

On Lê Lai street in Hanoi's center.
Hanoi Opera HouseHanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House

On the top of the Opera House, you can see an animal with wings (con mãnh sư có cánh). This shot was taken from a cafeteria next to the Opera House.
Fountain next to the 5-star Sofitel Metropole Hotel Fountain next to the 5-star Sofitel Metropole Hotel
Fountain next to the 5-star Sofitel Metropole Hotel

Đài phun nước Con Cóc - Photo from vnexpress.net (2/10/2010).

26th September 2010

familiar places
I love these photos. They are familiar places but I've often wondered what some of these buildings are, especially the government guesthouse. thanks for sharing them. Great to know you went to that school that I've passed so often.

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