Hoa Lo Prison is one of the most important historical relics of Vietnam, witnessing the glorious and tragic pages of the nation's history. It is also an attractive and meaningful tourist destination for those who want to learn about Vietnam's past and present. Discover this interesting place with BDATrip now!
Hoa Lo Prison is located at 1 Hoa Lo Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi, a historical destination right in the city center, close to famous tourist spots such as Hoàn Kiếm Lake and the Hanoi Opera House. Visitors can choose from various transportation modes including buses, motorcycles, taxis, or walking.
If traveling by bus, visitors can take routes such as 01, 02, 09, 14, 18, 23, 36, 38, 40, 86, and get off at nearby stations like Hang Bai, Hang Khay, or Ly Thuong Kiet, which are about 5-10 minutes walk from the prison. For motorbike taxis, taxis, motorcycles, or bicycles, follow Tran Hung Dao, Hai Ba Trung, or Quang Trung streets, and turn into Hoa Lo Street, easily recognizable by its red sign and red brick wall. Upon arrival, you can park your vehicle at a nearby parking lot.
If you choose to walk, try exploring the neighboring streets like Hang Bai, Hang Khay, Hang Bong, Hang Gai, and discover the small alleys that preserve the imprints of old Hanoi.
Hoa Lo Prison is open every day of the week, from Monday to Sunday, from 8 am to 5 pm, making it easy and convenient for visitors to explore and learn about the nation's history. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket counter or pre-booked through travel websites.
With reasonable ticket prices, 30,000 VND for adults and 15,000 VND for children, students, and seniors. To enhance the experience and gain a better understanding of the historical periods and exhibits, visitors can hire a guide for 100,000 VND for a group of under 10 people and 150,000 VND for a group over 10 people for the most detailed information and explanations,...
Built in 1896 by the French colonists, Hoa Lo Prison was initially used to detain those involved in patriotic and revolutionary movements. Located near the eponymous pottery village, symbolizing "the furnace" and "the kiln", the prison initially covered 12,000 m², including administrative, detention, execution, and medical areas. With its military architecture, thick walls, barbed wire, and modern camera and lighting systems, the prison became a symbol of oppression.
During the French colonial period, Hoa Lo became a place of torture and execution for thousands of revolutionary and patriotic fighters, where they endured harsh living conditions and disease. The prison also became a center of activity and learning for revolutionary prisoners, sharing knowledge and planning for the future. Historical figures like Hồ Chí Minh and Phan Bội Châu were imprisoned here.
After 1954, the prison was used to detain war prisoners, including American pilots during the Vietnam War. They nicknamed it “Hanoi Hilton”, highlighting the contrast between the prison and a luxury hotel. American prisoners faced hardships and psychological pressure but still participated in cultural and recreational activities such as learning Vietnamese and playing chess. Notable people like John McCain and James Stockdale were imprisoned here.
In 1975, a part of the prison was demolished to build apartments and offices. The remaining part, about 2,434 m², was turned into a museum in 1993, a place to reenact history, and the indomitable spirit of the revolutionary fighters taken prisoner. The museum also serves as an international exchange venue, raising awareness of human rights and peace.
One of the most notable artifacts at the Hoa Lo Prison Museum is the giant guillotine, located in the execution area. This torture and execution device, used by the French colonists to behead revolutionary prisoners, stands about 4 meters tall, made of iron and steel, with a sharp blade. When operated, the blade would fall with great force, quickly and painfully severing the victim's neck. This machine killed hundreds of revolutionary prisoners, including many famous historical figures like Nguyen Thai Hoc, Pho Duc Chinh, Nguyen Van Cu,...
The beheaded prisoners were not buried but thrown into mass graves or burnt to ashes. The giant guillotine symbolizes the brutality and cruelty of the French colonists, as well as the bravery and steadfastness of the revolutionaries.
Another impressive artifact at the Hoa Lo Prison Museum is the “Bodhi Tree of Affection,” planted in the area in front of the prison gate. This Bodhi tree, over 100 years old, is one of the oldest in Hanoi. It has witnessed the historical events of prison, such as the struggles of revolutionary prisoners, the executions by the French colonists, and the exchange of war prisoners,...
It also served as a place of emotional and moral bonding among revolutionaries and war prisoners. Many prisoners sat under its shade to talk, study, sing, write poems,... Some even carved their names on the tree, hoping to leave a mark and a message. The “Bodhi Tree of Affection” is a living testament to the survival and resilience of the revolutionary fighters and war prisoners.
Another noteworthy area in the Hoa Lo Prison Museum is the cachot, or dark dungeon. This area was used to detain prisoners considered dangerous, rebellious, or violators of prison rules. The cachot consists of small, dark, damp rooms. Each room only had a small window, an iron bed, and a bucket. Prisoners confined in the cachot endured terrible living conditions, lacking basic needs and suffering from diseases. They were completely isolated from the outside world, not allowed to meet or talk to anyone.
Prisoners were tortured and abused with cruel methods, such as being nailed, scalded with boiling water, beaten, hanged,... Many revolutionary fighters died in the cachot or became insane after leaving it. The cachot is seen as the hell of hells, vividly demonstrating the brutality and inhumanity of the French colonists.
To have an interesting and meaningful visit to Hoa Lo Prison Historical Site, you should keep in mind the following tips:
- Choose morning or afternoon for your visit to avoid crowds or hot weather. For each site, visitors should spend about 2-3 hours to thoroughly explore every corner of the prison.
- Wear modest, comfortable clothing, avoiding revealing, flashy clothes, or those with inappropriate images.
- Follow the prison's regulations, do not bring weapons, explosives, or banned substances. Maintain cleanliness, security, and do not damage, destroy, or steal artifacts or documents.
- Opt for a guided tour or audio guide to gain a deeper understanding of the artifacts and historical stories. Read information boards and documents carefully, and participate in cultural and educational activities at the prison such as exhibitions, seminars, film screenings.
- You may take photos and videos, but do so respectfully and without disturbing others, and be aware of areas where photography or filming is prohibited, such as the execution and dark dungeon areas.
After visiting Hoa Lo Prison, you can explore nearby tourist attractions to discover more of the beauty and culture of Hanoi, such as:
- Hoan Kiem Lake: A prominent symbol of Hanoi, where you can enjoy the peaceful scenery and architectural structures like Ngoc Son Temple, Turtle Tower, and The Huc Bridge. Ideal for activities like walking, cycling, and watching water puppet shows.
- Hanoi Opera House: An architectural masterpiece built in 1911, hosting exquisite art performances such as opera and ballet. You can enjoy the shows or simply admire the beauty of the building.
- Old Quarter of Hanoi: A bustling destination, retaining the ancient beauty with a series of old houses, shops, and eateries. Exploring the Old Quarter, you'll feel the vibrancy and diversity of Hanoi.
Visiting Hoa Lo Prison is not only an interesting travel experience but also a way to remember and pay tribute to those who sacrificed for the independence and freedom of the nation. Don't miss the opportunity to visit this place when you come to Hanoi.
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