Location: Thong Nhat Conference Hall is
located on No.106 Nguyen Du Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
Characteristic: Thong Nhat Conference Hall, also called Reunification
Hall or Presidential Palace, was built in 1865 on the grounds of Norodom Palace
as a residence for the French Governor General of Cochinchina.
After 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem and his family lived in the Norodom Palace. In
February 1963, a dissident launched an air bombardment and heavily damaged it.
Diem rebuilt the palace, which was later replaced by another one, called the
Independence Palace. It was designed by Western-trained architect Ngo Viet Thu.
The construction was undertaken by Saigon engineers and was completed in 1966.
The five-story building consists of 100 rooms and chambers decorated with the
finest modern Vietnamese arts and crafts. The ground floor room has a
boat-shaped table that was often used for conferences. Upstairs, a room called
Phu Dau Rong was where Nguyen Van Thieu received foreign delegations. The
residential quarters are in the back of the building. On the third floor, there
is a card-playing room. This floor also possesses a terrace with a heliport
where a helicopter is parked. The fourth floor was used for dancing, and even
had a casino. The most interesting part of the building is probably the basement
containing a network of tunnels, a telecommunication centre, and a war room. At
11h30 on 30 April 1975, the palace was overrun by Liberation Army tanks. Duong
Van Minh, who was president at that time, together with his 45-member cabinet,
surrendered unconditionally. After the liberation of Saigon, the Independence
Palace was turned into the Headquarters of the Municipal Military Administrative
Committee. In December 1975, the palace welcomed a conference for national
reunification. To mark the historical significance of the event, the building
was renamed Thong Nhat Conference Hall (Reunification Conference Hall).