This is the state banqueting hall. Banquets with up to 100 guests were held in this room. One of the most notable was the inauguration dinner of President Nguyen Van Thieu and his VP on October 31, 1967. The rooms gold color scheme was intended to create a convivial atmosphere.
It’s focal point is the massive painting in 7 sections by the Palace architect, Ngo Viet Thu, representing a scene from a Chinese poem known as an evocation of national unity. It’s opening lines are “The land is as lovely as a length of brocade, all its growing things ripening in peace.”
Nguyen Van Thieu was born in 1923 in Tri Thuy village in Ninh Thuan province. He was trained at the officer’s school in Da Lat and proceeded to finish his education in the USA and France.
Having taken part in the coup d’etat against President Diem in November 1963, he made a rapid rise to power, becoming Prime Minister with the additional stints as Minister of Defense and National Assembly President, then President of the Southern Republic in 1967. Thieu wrote to the US President on 25 March 1975, pleading for an air assault against the areas held by Vietnamese Revolutionary Forces and for continuing American support for the Southern Republic – he was denied. He resigned on April 21, 1975, and fled South Vietnam. He died in 2001 in Boston.
In the first of the two presidential reception rooms, the President’s chair is placed on a platform in front of a striped panel symbolizing the flag of the Republic of Vietnam. Facing the President’s throne-like sea is a chair intended for the guest of honor. Both are carved with a dragon heads. Other chairs are carved with a phoenix head or characters symbolizing longevity.
Between October 19-23 1972, six meetings were held in this room between President Theiu and Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was attempting to convince Thieu to accept the agreement that was eventually enacted as the Paris Peace Accords (January 1973).
Totally unique in terms of official Vietnamese buildings, the building has stood the test of time well and continues to impress with this modern style, coincidently just coming somewhat back into vogue now. Just like Khoi Thom, the Western and Vietnamese aesthetics play together quite well.
Modern lines meet ancient-styled art in many of the rooms. I wonder how much that table weighs?
I REALLY like this piece covering one of the second floor room walls! Pity these nasty air con devices are in the way… or are they part of the work?
Entertainment was a priority for President Theiu, and he had many modern conveniences such as a private theatre/cinema installed for him and his buddies. Also maybe foreign dignitaries, if they’re in the mood.
This room didn’t have a sign, but my GOD I am in love with that circle couch!!! Scratch that, I’m in love with that whole room – everything from the rocking chair in the bottom right to the shelving units along the back to curtains is totally my bag.
This gorgeous space on the roof of the palace, the Salon of the 4 Cardinal Directions, was also known as the meditation room, and was intended by the architect as a space in which the head of State would find the calm necessary to reflect with due care before taking decisions determining the country’s future.
President Thieu, apparently lacking any sense of irony or foreshadowing, transformed this space into a party room with space for the entertainment of 100+ guests. The dance floor was constructed from high-quality hardwood and the windows were constructed from blast-proof glass 12mm thick.
On April 30, 1975, at 11:30 AM, Lieutenant Than raised the flag of the Provisional Revolutionary Government from the flagpole above this room, having first taken down the flag of the newly dissolved Republic of Viet Nam.
This is the view of Le Duan Street extending from the front gates of the Palace. I can see the appeal of this location as a party room, incidentally.
Out the back of the Solon is a view of the upper terrace and helipad. The red circles indicate where bombs were dropped on April 8th, 1975.
Beneath the palace lies a major bunker.
|Ancient computers! Cool!|
Designed by the Lt. Col. Phan Van Dien, the construction of the Presidential bunker took 3 months. The rooms are linked by narrow passageways and protected by reinforced concrete walls. It consists of two sections.
The command centre has a dept of .6 meters and is protected by a concrete wall capable of resisting a 500kg blast. Its telecommunication equipment was installed by the Americans in the 1960s.
The maximum security shelter, at a depth of 2.5m, has a blast wall capable of resisting explosion of up to 2,000kg. A staircase gave the president direct access to the shelter from his second floor office. During the bombing of the Palace on April 8, 1975 the President’s whole family took refuge in the shelter.