Stately building graces downtown HCMC, 100 years on

By Quynh Tran   September 24, 2019 | 11:01 am GMT+7

Built in 1914, a French colonial building used to serve as the headquarters of Saigon’s railway sector in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited)

The Hoa Xa complex at 136 Ham Nghi Street in District 1 comprises two buildings, one L-shaped and the other a rectangular structure behind, and stands in front of Saigon’s iconic Ben Thanh Market.

It used to serve the Saigon Railway Station, being a midpoint for trains heading to places like Hanoi, Loc Ninh Town (Binh Phuoc Province) and My Tho Town (Tien Giang Province). The station was first built in District 1 in 1885 and moved to its current District 3 location in the 1930s.

HCMC authorities recently sent a proposal to the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance and the Vietnam Railway Corporation to start a conservation program for the complex, including an arrangement for the building to fit the city’s new urban plans.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 1

Originally known as Bureau du Chemin de fer of the Indochina Railway Company, the building was the headquarters of the Ministry of Transport and Post of the then Saigon government before 1975.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, if its proposal is accepted, the bigger, L-shaped building will serve as a central control station to be integrated with the current urban railways. It will also be connected to the underground space of Ben Thanh area.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 2

A sideways look at the outer building.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 3

The corner roof of the building with three flagpoles.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 4

In typical French architectural style, a row of large windows on each floor allows natural light and breeze.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 5

Next to each window on the top floor are exquisitely crafted embossed reliefs of two dragons intertwined around a flaming torch, which could symbolize the "Dragon Alchemy" in the ancient Tantric tradition.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 6

The main door of the outer building with iron patterns.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 7

The complex is currently the office of the Saigon Railway Transportation Joint Stock Company. The hallway is dotted with many windows that stretch to the ceiling in order to allow better air ventilation.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 8

The staircase has multiple balusters which is common classical architecture.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 9

Currently, the outer wall of the building is defaced with graffiti, and the paint is peeling.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 10

Some parts of the wall are cracked and damaged.

Century-old complex a historical importance of Saigons railway industry (unedited) - 11

A photograph of the building in 1926.

The building is being protected under Vietnam’s Cultural Heritage Law.

 
 
go to top