Vietnam was under the French rule in the 19th century; The French left Vietnam but left their mark in the form of buildings in many places especially Hanoi. The French started by demolishing the old buildings and building new ones in their place. The French wanted to give the place European look and that is why buildings were constructed on European patterns. Even today you can see boulevards lined with trees on both sides, villas and mansions in yellow stones and some extremely impressive buildings; all wonderful features of French architecture. To adapt to the new area, some local features were incorporated in the building style but the French influence was dominant.
The Presidential Palace in Hanoi is perhaps the grandest French Colonial structure. Built somewhere between 1900 and 1906, the Presidential Palace served as the residence of the French Governor-General of Indochina. The building is made of yellow stones and is guarded by wrought iron gates. It is quite impressive and heavily European with the mango trees on the grounds being the only local factor. The interior too has renaissance features like the quoins, columns and an impressive staircase. The Palace was renovated in 1990 and at present serves as a venue for government meetings. Only the spacious grounds and the lovely gardens of the Presidential Palace can be seen by the public (an entry fee is charged).
Constructed in 1886, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral is another beautiful example of French colonial architecture. Stained glass windows which throw off different hues of colors when light falls on them and tall towers are some features found in the cathedrals in Europe. The church still holds masses with the number of worshippers reaching in thousands.
The date of construction of the Hanoi Opera House is recorded as 1911 though it could have been constructed earlier. It is built on almost the same pattern as the Opera House in France. The splendor and beauty of this building is beyond description. French neo-classic patterns like wrought iron balconies, tiles and shuttered windows dominate the yellow stoned exterior. The impressive entrance is features columns and a wrought iron balcony which overlook the city. The Opera House was renovated in 1990 and with a seating capacity of 900 people; it continues to entertain the people. To see the building from inside, you need to purchase a ticket for the performance.