Saigon building rings history with 100-year-old telephone booths

By Phong Vinh    December 12, 2018 | 06:53 pm GMT+7

Saigon’s fully functional post office is so imbued with history that pleasantly surprised visitors are eager to introduce it to others.

Saigon building rings history with 100-year-old telephone booths

The French built the Saigon Central Post Office in the 1886-1891 period. Located then on Cong Xa Paris Street, District 1, the building, designed by a French architect, combines European and East Asian styles.

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According to the HCMC Department of Culture and Sports, the Post Office has been listed as a national monument since 2010. Visitors have many things to admire about this, starting with its architectural features.

It also functions as a museum in how it allows visitors to explore the history of Saigon, be it a mailbox, an old-fashioned telephone booth or a hundred-year-old bench.

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The façade of the building has arched windows with a domed top and European-style decor.

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The domed ceiling creates a sense of spaciousness even when the building is crowded. The large arch is supported by four pillars located at four corners. Each pillar supports four iron rails spreading out on four sides.

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In the hall, there are 14 telephone booths that are no longer in use, having become a museum artifact that people can look at but not touch. 

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On the right side of the hall is a map called "Saigon et ses environs 1892" showing the geography of Saigon and its surroundings.

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Opposite to the 1982 map is the map "Lignes du Terre Pyramids du Sud Vietnam et du Cambodge 1936" - showing the power lines of Vietnam and Cambodia in 1936.

The Sai Gon - Quy Nhon - Da Nang - Hue - Vinh - Ha Noi telegraph line (Post Office system) has a length of 2,000 km and was completed on March 22, 1888.

In 1889, the Sai Gon - Bangkok (Thailand) telegraph line was opened to serve businesses. From July 1, 1894, Saigon began using the telephone system.

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On top of each booth is a clock that shows the time in many big cities in the world.

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An old fashioned chandelier in the post office.

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The Central Post Office in Saigon has been operating normally for three centuries with more than 30 service counters. Along with Notre Dame Cathedral, the Independence Palace and the War Remnants Museum, this is one of the most visited attractions in Saigon. 

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French man Criss, a first time visitor to Vietnam, said the architecture of the building was very similar to some works in his country. "I am happy to see a French-style structure in Saigon. I sent a postcard to my family in Paris," he said.

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Located in the middle of the post office is a souvenir shop, which sells many handicraft items and postcards. The shop is mainly frequented by foreign visitors.

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At the end of the post office, four rows of wooden tables and chairs are arranged to serve people who need to write before sending mails and packages.

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From left: Alex and Laura from Germany and Samantha from Spain are also first time visitors to HCMC as well as the Central Post Office. All three expressed their admiration for "this masterpiece."

"We are glad to see this building well-maintained. I will certainly tell my friends about this place when I return to Germany," Laura said.

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The building is also an icon for young Saigon residents. Many young people and students use the front yard of the building for dancing and other activities, including taking yearbook photos.

 
 
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