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French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

By Le Tan   September 11, 2022 | 05:00 am PT
Most colonial landmarks in Hai Phong with a touch of French architecture have remained intact after over a century and become tourist gems.
French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

Hai Phong was founded in 1887 as a major seaport city of Vietnam.

In 1888, the president of the French Third Republic, Sadi Carnot, promulgated a decree to establish Hai Phong and began constructing a series of major buildings on a seven-hectare area from Lac Long Bridge to Tran Hung Dao Street as known today.

In the photo stands the former headquarters of Hai Phong’s People Committee, one of the first French-influenced buildings in the northern port city.

French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

Another gem that carries the unique architectural style of the French is Hai Phong Opera House on Tran Hung Dao Street in Hong Bang District.

Construction started in 1904 as the French colonial authorities cleared an old market to make way for the Opera House. Its design simulated the architecture of France's Palais Garnier.

It took eight years to complete. All materials were brought from France and constructed by Vietnamese workers under the lead of French architects.

Hai Phong Opera House was a place of political and cultural activities for the French and rich indigenous peoples. Only famous troupes from France or famed local equivalents could perform here while only the rich could afford tickets.

Within the main performance hall, Hai Phong Opera House provides seating for 300 patrons over two floors.

The highlight is that its plush, red cushioned chairs fit perfectly with the gold trimming and high domed ceiling of the space.

French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

Near the Opera House stands a former private hospital called Fesquet that was owned by a French doctor.

Today, it serves as the headquarters of Hai Phong Youth Union.

French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

Also on Tran Hung Dao Street is Kim Dong Park.

In the middle of this park is a multi-roofed building built in 1942 by the French.

Now the building serves as a public library of Hong Bang District.

French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

The headquarters of Vietinbank on Dien Bien Phu Street, which used to be called Paul Bert Avenue under French colonial rule.

French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

Located on Luong Khanh Thien, Hai Phong Station is one of the main railway hubs along the Hanoi–Hai Phong route in Vietnam.

Built by French architects, it entered operation in 1902.

The train station is also the terminus of the Sino – Vietnamese Railway, which was the first railway line to Kunming City of China's Yunnan Province.

French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

Built in 1905, Hai Phong Post Office also carries the neoclassical style of most other major French-influenced buildings.

The first telephone line in Hai Phong City was installed here.

It is now a popular tourist destination in Hai Phong.

French-era landmarks in the heart of Hai Phong

Hai Phong Museum was the first local museum established in Vietnam.

Built in 1919 on a one-hectare area covered with old trees, the museum holds a small but impressive collection of local historical artifacts that trace the heritage of the region as well as a selection of precious gems, traditional items, and old photographs.

Architect Minh Tri, vice chairman of Hai Phong Architects Association, said Hai Phong's urban architecture bears the influence of the French.

Over the past 100 years, French buildings have remained nearly intact, he said.

 
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