French Architectures in the Heart of Hanoi
Long Bien Bridge
Long Bien Bridge built by the French (1898-1902) was the largest bridge of a time in Asia and is a symbol of Hanoi. Initially, the bridge was named Doumer according to the name of Paul Doumer, the Governor General of Indochina.
During the first Destructive war in Northern Vietnam (1965-1968), the bridge was bombed 10 times by the US aircraft, 7 spans and 4 large pillars of the bridge were broken. In the second destructive war in Northern Vietnam of USA’s air force (1972), Long Bien bridge was bombed four times destroying 1,500 m bridge and two large pillars were cut off.
For over one hundred years of existence, Long Bien Bridge has increasingly degraded and is a witness of the history of Hanoi.
Hang Dau water tower
From Long Bien Bridge, you can visit Hang Dau water tower, the water work supplying water from the French colonial have built on the intersection of Hang Dau – Hang Than – Quan Thanh – Hang Luoc – Hang Giay – Phan Dinh Phung streets . This water tower was built stone taken from Ha Noi citadel by the French in 1894. Many people think that the water tower is a blockhouse; therefore, the name “Bot Hang Dau” has become familiar since then.
Presidential Palace and Chu Van An High School
The house of French Governor-General of Indochina was designed by by architect Charles Lichtenfelder and built in the years of 1901-1906 with a monumental majestic scale, and costed a lot of money. This is one of the largest mansions built in French Indochina. The building was totally built in European style. In 1945, the building was renamed into Presidential Palace and this name has existed to this day.
Chu Van An High School was established by the French with the official name of Lycee du Protectorat to train employees for their ruling engine in Northern Vietnam. However, the school was often known by the name Buoi school, the name which students used to show thier patriotism. In 1945, the school was renamed into Chu Van An National High School under the Tran Trong Kim government, and people have kept this name since then until now.
Inside the school, there are still traits of French architecture in the school buildings. The school has a very famous octagonal, which was later upgraded to be school’s library. This ancient building was originally named La Villa Schneider according to name of the owner of the mansion, a French boss of a paper mill- Henri Schneider. Later, the building was used as the residence of the French principal of High School of the Protectorate. Here, you can see the West lake along the ancient trees grown hundreds of years ago.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi
A place not to be missed in the journey of discovery ” France in the heart of Hanoi” is Hanoi’s Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St. Joseph located at No. 40 Nha Chung street. The church was built in 1886. It is a church with Gothic Revival architecture used as a gathering and meeting place of the Roman Catholic community in Hanoi.
The church has a unique appearance, built of stone slabs and tiles. The facade of the Church consists of 2 towers of 31.5 meters high. Each tower is fitted with 5 bells. Glazed windows were manufactured in France and then transported to Vietnam.
Dien Hong garden flowers
Finally, you should end the journey at Dien Hong flower garden, where people generally call Con Coc (Toad) flower garden. During the French colonial period, the garden was called Chavassieux Square. In 1901, the French built a water tank in the middle of the garden. It is a square stone pillar of about 3.5 meters high in the middle, and bronze toads around, therefore, Hanoian also call it Toad flower garden.
Around the garden, there is a complex of beautiful French ancient architectures such as Government Guest House (the previous Northern Government), State Bank of Vietnam (ancient Indochina Bank) and Métropole hotel.