Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace formerly known as Independence Palace (Dinh Độc Lập), built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City , formerly named Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam...

, Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ
Ngo Viet Thu
Ngô Viết Thụ was a Vietnamese architect; he designed the Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City....

 and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

 during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon
Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

 on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.

Colonial era

In 1858, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 launched an attack on Đà Nẵng
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

, starting its invasion of Vietnam. In 1867, France completed its conquest of southern Vietnam (Cochinchina
Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1954. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ...

), comprising the provinces of Biên Hoà
Bien Hoa
Biên Hòa is a city in Dong Nai province, Vietnam, about east of Ho Chi Minh City , to which Bien Hoa is linked by Vietnam Highway 1.- Demographics :In 1989 the estimated population was over 300,000. In 2005, the population wss 541,495...

, Gia Định, Định Tường, Vĩnh Long
Vinh Long
Vĩnh Long is the capital of the Vinh Long province in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The name was spelled 永隆 in the former Hán Tự writing system....

, An Giang, and Hà Tiên
Hà Tiên
Hà Tiên or Ha Tien is a town in Kien Giang Province, Tay Nam Bo of Vietnam. Area: 8,851.5 ha, population : 39,957. The town borders Cambodia to the west....

. To consolidate the newly established colony, on 23 February 1868, Lagrandière, Governor of Cochinchina, held a ceremony to lay the foundation stone of a new palace to replace the old wooden palace built in 1863. The new palace was designed by Hermite, who was also the architect of the Hong Kong City Hall. The first cubic stone, measuring 50 cm along each edge, with indentations containing French gold and silver coins bearing Napoleon III's effigy, came from Biên Hòa
Bien Hoa
Biên Hòa is a city in Dong Nai province, Vietnam, about east of Ho Chi Minh City , to which Bien Hoa is linked by Vietnam Highway 1.- Demographics :In 1989 the estimated population was over 300,000. In 2005, the population wss 541,495...


The complex covered an area of 12 hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s, including a palace with an 80-meter-wide façade, a guest-chamber capable of accommodating 800 people, with a spacious gardens covered by green trees and a lawn. Most of the building materials were imported from France. Owing to the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870, construction fell behind schedule and was not completed until 1873. The palace was named Norodom Palace after the then king of Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Norodom (1834–1904). The avenue in front of the palace bore the same name. From 1871 to 1887, the palace was used by the French Governor of Cochinchina (Gouverneur de la Cochinchine); therefore, it was referred to as the Governor’s Palace. From 1887 to 1945, all Governors-General of French Indochina
Governor-General of French Indochina
-External links:*...

 used the palace as their residence and office. The office of the Cochinchinese Governors was relocated to a nearby villa
A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity,...


World War II

On March 9, 1945, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 defeated and replaced France in French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

 in a successful coup. Norodom Palace became the headquarters of Japanese colonial officials in Vietnam. In September 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces in World War II and France returned to Vietnam and Norodom Palace was restored to its position as the office of the French colonists.

After World War II

On May 7, 1954, France surrendered to the Việt Minh
Viet Minh
Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pac Bo on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China...

 after its defeat at the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist revolutionaries. The battle occurred between March and May 1954 and culminated in a comprehensive French defeat that...

. France agreed to sign the Geneva Accords
Geneva Conference (1954)
The Geneva Conference was a conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, whose purpose was to attempt to find a way to unify Korea and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina...

 and withdrew its troops from Vietnam. According to the accords, Vietnam would be divided for two years, until 1956. The 17th Parallel
17th parallel
17th parallel may refer to:*17th parallel north, a circle of latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, used as the demarcation line between North and South Vietnam*17th parallel south, a circle of latitude in the Southern Hemisphere...

 would act as the temporary border until a vote based on universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 was held to establish a unified Vietnamese government. North Vietnam was under the control of the Việt Minh communists, while South Vietnam was under the anti-communist State of Vietnam
State of Vietnam
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and replaced the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam . The provisional government was a brief transitional administration between colonial Cochinchina and an independent state...

. On 7 September 1954, Norodom Palace was handed over to the prime minister of the State of Vietnam, Ngô Đình Diệm
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

. by a representative of the French presence in Vietnam, General Paul Ély.

In 1955, Diệm defeated former Emperor Bảo Đại
Bảo Đài
Bảo Đài is a commune and village in Lục Nam District, Bac Giang Province, in northeastern Vietnam.-References:...

, the chief of state of the State of Vietnam, in a fraudulent referendum. Ngô Đình Diệm declared himself president of the newly proclaimed Republic of Vietnam and renamed the building the Independence Palace. According to fengshui, the palace is located on a dragon’s head; therefore, it was also referred to as the Dragon’s Head Palace.

Vietnam War

On 27 February 1962, two pilots of Diệm’s Vietnam Air Force
Vietnam Air Force
The Vietnam Air Force began with a few hand-picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era. It eventually grew into the world’s sixth largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974...

, Nguyễn Văn Cử
Nguyen Van Cu
Nguyễn Văn Cử was a lieutenant in the Vietnam Air Force, best known for being one of two mutinous pilots involved in the 1962 South Vietnamese Presidential Palace bombing on 27 February 1962, which aimed to assassinate South Vietnam's President Ngô Đình Diệm and his immediate family, who were his...

 and Phạm Phú Quốc
Pham Phu Quoc
Phạm Phú Quốc was a French-trained South Vietnamese flying ace and lieutenant in the Republic of Vietnam Air Force, best known for being one of two mutinous pilots involved in the 1962 South Vietnamese Presidential Palace bombing on February 27, 1962, which aimed to assassinate President Ngo Dinh...

, rebelled and flew two A-1 Skyraider
A-1 Skyraider
The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after a French World War I fighter...

 (A-1D/AD-6 variant) aircraft towards the palace and bombed it, instead of going on a raid against the Việt Cộng. As a result, almost the entire left wing was destroyed. However, Diệm and his family escaped the assassination attempt. As it was almost impossible to restore the palace, Diệm ordered it demolished and commissioned a new building in its place. The new palace was constructed according to a design by Ngô Viết Thụ
Ngo Viet Thu
Ngô Viết Thụ was a Vietnamese architect; he designed the Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City....

, a Vietnamese architect who won the First Grand Prize of Rome (Grand Prix de Rome) in 1955, the highest recognition of the Beaux-Arts school in Paris. He was also a laureate
In English, the word laureate has come to signify eminence or association with literary or military glory. It is also used for winners of the Nobel Prize.-History:...

 of the Rome Architecture Award.
The construction of the new Independence Palace started on 1 July 1962. Meanwhile, Diệm and his ruling family moved to Gia Long Palace (today the Ho Chi Minh City Museum
Ho Chi Minh City Museum
Ho Chi Minh City Museum is an historical site in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The museum is situated at the corner of Lý Tự Trọng street and Nam Kỳ khởi nghĩa street, near Reunification Palace, originally Independence Palace.-History:The building now occupied by the museum was built during the...

). However, Diệm did not see the completed hall as he and his brother and chief adviser Ngô Đình Nhu
Ngo Dinh Nhu
Ngô Ðình Nhu was the younger brother and chief political advisor of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Ðình Diệm. Nhu was widely regarded as the architect of the Ngô family's nepotistic and autocratic rule over South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963...

 were assassinated after a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

led by General Dương Văn Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

 in November 1963. The completed hall was inaugurated on 31 October 1966 by the chairman of the National Leadership Committee, General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
Nguyen Van Thieu
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965 to 1975. He was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam , became head of a military junta, and then president after winning a fraudulent election...

, who was then the head of a military junta. The Independence Hall served as Thiệu’s home and office from October 1967 to 21 April 1975, when he fled the country as communist North Vietnamese forces swept southwards in the decisive Ho Chi Minh Campaign
Ho Chi Minh Campaign
The Hồ Chí Minh Campaign was the final title applied to a series of increasingly large-scale and ambitious offensive operations by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam which began on 13 December 1974...


On 8 April 1975, Nguyễn Thanh Trung, a pilot of the Vietnam Air Force and an undetected communist spy, flew an F-5E aircraft from Biên Hòa Air Base
Bien Hoa Air Base
Bien Hoa Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield located in South-Central southern Vietnam about 20 miles from Saigon near the city of Bien Hoa within Dong Nai Province....

 to bomb the palace, but caused no significant damage. At 10:45 on 30 April 1975, a tank of the North Vietnamese Army bulldozed through the main gate
Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

, ending the Vietnam War.

In November 1975, after the negotiation convention between the communist North Vietnam and their colleagues in South Vietnam was completed, the Provisional Revolutionary Government renamed the palace Reunification Hall (Hội trường Thống Nhất).

External links

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