Built as the Hotel de la Residence Superieure du Tonkin, it was designed by Adolphe Bussy and completed in 1919. It might be a French private hotel lift from the Second Empire with its sloping tile roofs, the two wings in strict symmetry, the windows of the facade bearing protruding medallions, framed by classic Ionic pillars.
Entered via a flared central stairway of honor or the curving ramp, the ornate iron gates suggest a hint of Art Nouveau style to come.
These days it is used to receive visiting heads of state and is therefore closed to the public.
The history of Presidential Palace
It was constructed by Auguste Henri Vildieu, the official French architect for French Indochina. Like most French Colonial architecture, the palace is pointedly European. The only visual cues that it is located in Vietnam at all are mango trees growing on the grounds.
The yellow palace stands behind wrought iron gates flanked by sentry boxes. It incorporates elements of Italian Renaissance design, including:
- a formal piano nobile reached by a grand staircase
- broken pediments
- classical columns
When Vietnam achieved independence in 1954, Ho Chi Minh was claimed to have refused to live in the grand structure for symbolic reasons, although he still received stateguests there, he eventually built a traditional Vietnamese stilt house and carp pond on the grounds. His house and the grounds were made into the Presidential Palace Historical Site in 1975.
The palace hosts government meetings. It is not open to the public, although one may walk around the grounds for a fee.