Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Hanoi Sights

In the few days that we spent in Hanoi, we were surprised by the relative paucity of historical monuments in this capital city and the second largest city in Vietnam.  The old quarter streetscape trumped the few significant buildings on our tour list.  Granted we did not venture far outside the old quarter but there were not a lot to entice us into the so called French quarter other than the Opera House and a couple of museums.  Designer stores were in abundance but not a destination for us.

Below are some of the key sights we visited - this is afterall a communist country and I suspect these are obligatory items on every tour company's list.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - housing the body of the former leader of this communist country (1941 to 1969)

The official presidential palace itself is off limits

The beautiful carp pond in the palace garden

This is is the "stilt" house on the palace grounds where Ho Chi Minh supposedly lived in the last ten years of his life.  It was built like the traditional Vietnamese stilt house and Ho met with his comrades in the lower deck seen here.  

The One Pillar Pagoda, originally from the 11th century, destroyed by the French in 1954 and rebuilt afterwards.  It is designed to represent a lotus blossom standing in a pond.

The floral display outside the Temple of Literature

The entrance to the Temple of Literature, essentially a temple dedicated to Confucius - the layout was based on the original temple in Qufu, Shandong, Confucius' birthplace.

Constellation of Literature pavillion

The main temple

Huge bonsai on temple grounds

Statue of Confucius

Rows of stellae of carved blue stone turtles carried the names and birthplaces of the graduates of the 82 triennial exams

We were taken to the Maison Centrale (Hoa Lo Prison), also known as the "Hanoi Hilton", in reality a prison where the French held their political prisoners and where later, the North Vietnamese held American prisoners of war.  

Glass on the wall

Wall sculptures depicting prisoners from colonial times and during the Vietnam war

A guillotine used in the prison
Opera House in the French Quarter

War memorial

Old Hang Dau water tower - the oldest French structure in Hanoi - it's very close to the bridge (below) built by Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame

Water Puppet Theatre with live music accompaniment

Lively traditional Vietnamese water puppet theatre and puppet crew

Next post: Hanoi Streetscapes

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