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Maison Centrale in Hanoi; Hoa Lo Prison Memorial

Also known as Hoa Lo Prison and ‘Hanoi Hilton, Maison Centrale in Hanoi is a place to house Vietnamese revolutionaries, soldiers, and American POWs during Vietnam war. The fort was once a large colonial-style prison, most of which was destroyed in the 1990s.

The prison is still a famous tourist attraction for those on the war history path. Official records stated that the prisoners were numbered hundreds of people despite not knowing as many as 2,000 prisoners were crammed into a space reserved for 600 prisoners.

About 200-300 prisoners were arrested by American pilots and taken to the Maison Centrale for interrogation and torture, the American prisoners themselves ironically set for the prison the nickname ‘Hanoi Hilton. Hoa Lo Prison today depicts another aspect of the horror stories told by former prisoners, although the prominent display shackles hang on the walls. Much of the emphasis is on Vietnamese revolutionaries, some of whom were executed at the prison. American prisoners recorded their own experiences, very few of which are at the Maison Centrale today.

Hanoi’s Maison Centrale Highlights 

Situated in the center of Hanoi close to the French Quarter, and completed in 1913, Maison Centrale was French built to house Vietnamese political campaigners for independence. These activists were arrested and often shackled to the floor in the prison, even they can be beaten by guards. Vietnamese prisoners were also executed here using a guillotine, which is now on display near the notorious prison.

The prison was later used for American prisoners of war, often pilots captured when their aircraft crashed. Although a great deal has been written about the experiences with feared “ blue room” by the survivors during the notorious war. The blue room is used to interrogate and torture new prisoners and visitors can still see the room today although there is nothing on display here about the horror stories told by American POW, including former US presidential candidate John McCain.

Maison Centrale in Hanoi

Because Maison Centrale is accessed through a gate on Hoa Lo Street with the sign Maison Centrale at the entrance, therefore taking a taxi is the easiest way to get to the prison. simultaneously, you can pay a visit to Hoan Kiem Lake nearby. 

Opening Hours: open daily from 08:00 until 17:00 and closed from lunch from 11:30 until 13:30 

Location: Hoa Lo Street

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