Saigon Opera House
Though it has been renamed the Saigon Municipal Theatre for some time now, everyone in Ho Chi Minh City still refers to the elegant building in the center of Lam Son Square as the Saigon Opera House.
Construction on the Opera House began in 1898 to the directions of French architects Felix Oliver and Eugene Ferret, who took inspiration from the Palace Garnier and the Petit Palais – both popular buildings in Paris at the time. Materials for the building’s interiors – granite floors, crystal chandeliers, and stone statues – were brought all the way from France. The building was raised 6.5 feet (2 m) from street level and afforded a double set of doors to keep out unwanted noise.
Like many colonial-era buildings in Vietnam, the Saigon Opera House went through stages of use and disuse. It was damaged by aerial bombing in WWII, was stripped of some of its adornments in 1943, used as an assembly for South Vietnam’s Lower House in the 50s, and returned to its original purpose as an entertainment venue in 1975 after the end of the Vietnam American War.
The building travelers encounter today was restored in 1998, and many of the original features, engravings and statues can still be seen on the facade. Several excellent shows and concerts are performed in the Opera House on a weekly basis. Visitors can take advantage of these opportunities to stroll the interiors of the building, step out on its lovely balconies and enjoy its prime position in the cinematic heart of Ho Chi Minh City.
Saigon Opera House, Saigon Municipal Theater, Ho Chi Minh City, colonial architecture, cultural tours, Lam Son Square
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