Being one of special places among Vietnamese, to the west of the Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh complex is an important place of pilgrimage. Ho Chi Minh (or Uncle Ho), the very first president of Vietnam, the National Liberation Hero, was born in 19th May, 1890. He devoted his whole life to the national liberation of Vietnamese people so he was recognized by UNESCO for his devotation. In order to honor and show the gratitude to Uncle Ho, the government decided to build the Ho Chi Minh complex in Hanoi after he was gone. The complex includes Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, Uncle Ho’s House on stilt, One Pillar pagoda, Ho Chi Minh museum and Ba Dinh square.
At the beginning, the President stated his wish to be cremated, and to have his ash buried on the hills of the North, the Center, and the South of Vietnam. Yet, in honor of his huge dedication for the country and for the love of all Vietnamese for him, the government decided to keep his body so that he can see the whole country’s reunion, and the following generations can come and visit him. Accordingly, on September 2nd, 1973, his mausoleum started to be built in Ba Dinh Square, where he read the Independence Declaration on September 2nd, 1945, and was completed on August 22nd, 1975, with the Soviet Union’s help.
The Mausoleum, which was made of marble and granite, features a three-stored structure. In the second store places the famous President’s body, lying as if he were sleeping in the simple clothes worn when he was alive. Outside, visitors can see his popular quote “Khong co gi quy hon doc lap tu do” (translated as “Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom”) on the top face of the mausoleum. In front of the mausoleum is the 79 cycad trees, symbolizing Uncle Ho’s 79 springs of life. The two bamboo ranges on the two sides whistle in the wind that sounds like they are commemorating the President.
Right next to the mausoleum, visitors will pass by the Presidential Palace which was built from 1901-1906 by the French colonialists, as a palace of the General Indochina Governor. It has a special typical French structure and architecture. Since 1954, the Vietnamese Government took over this Palace to house the President. Yet, he refused, thus it has been used as the Presidential Palace for high-ranking level diplomatic meetings since then. Constrast to the modernity of the Presidential palace, President Ho Chi Minh lived in a normal electrician’s house nearby. Walking around, visitors can feel his simple and pure lifestyle in a wooden tiled house on stilt, surrounded by a garden full of fruit trees and a peaceful fishpond.
The house has two floors. The ground floor was the meeting place, consisting of 12 chairs around a large table. Upstairs, there is a bookshelf used as a wattle between his study room and bed room. A small typewriter is laid on the lowest level of the shelf used for typing. His bed room is very simple with a single wooden bed, a small blanket, a rush mat, a fan made of palm leaves and a bottle of water. Visitors can see a cotton bonnet he used to wear when alive. Some books periodicals he was reading are left on the table. The beloved President lived here from 1958 until he passed away.
The Ho Chi Minh museum, the last spot in the complex, is located near the One Pillar pagoda. It was commenced in August 1985 and inaugurated on May 19th 1990 right on the birth centenary anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh.
The museum was built in the shape of a white lotus flower, including 3 floors. In the centre of the ground floor, there is a hall with 400 seats, which can host domestic and international meetings, conferences and scientific seminars. The main exhibition area of the museum is on the second floor covering a huge area of nearly with more than 2,000 documents and show-pieces are displayed, systematically reflecting President Ho Chi Minh’s tough life and revolution cause since late 19th century.
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