Guidebook Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City

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Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City

It looks just as it did on the day a North Vietnamese tank crashed through its gates, writes The New York Times, “marking the end of the brutal 20-year war.” The palace was the site of a dramatic finish to the Vietnam War as tanks crashed through the main gate on the morning of April 30, 1975, explains Trip Savvy. “After crashing through the wrought-iron gates,” says Lonely Planet, “a soldier ran into the building and up the stairs to unfurl a VC flag from the balcony. In an ornate reception chamber, General Minh, who had become head of the South Vietnamese state only 43 hours before, waited with his improvised cabinet.” According to the story, recalls Lonely Planet, “Minh said to the VC officer who entered the room ‘I have been waiting since early this morning to transfer power to you.' ‘There is no question of your transferring power,’ replied the officer. ‘You cannot give up what you do not have’.”

“There are some beautiful original pieces of art, especially lacquer, on the palace walls,” says Rusty Compass. “The basement rooms, packed with 1960s military communications equipment and maps, are fascinating,” and “replicas of the Chinese tanks that crashed through the palace gates on April 30 1975 are parked in the grounds.”

The Independence Palace is “a gem of period design,” says the South China Morning Post — “modernist political architecture and Goldfinger-era James Bond interiors, pleasing to both aesthetes and nostalgists.” And while the ground and upper floors are “stately,” says Travelfish, the basement “truly amazes” with its network of concrete war rooms “that could be used in the remake of Dr Strangelove.” The basement tunnels, built to withstand bombing, “is where South Vietnam’s war effort was conducted from and the telecommunications epicentre.”

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