After our visa interview this morning, we decided to visit the Hoa Lo Prison, also know as the “Hanoi Hilton,” where US POWs were incarcerated during the Vietnam War (known here as the “American War”). Only a third of the original prison remains, as the rest was demolished in 1993 to make way for the Hanoi Towers, which includes the hotel we are staying in (the Somerset), a business center, convention hall, and shopping area.
The prison was built in 1896 by the French to house Vietnamese prisoners who fought against colonial rule. Most of the exhibits focus on the mistreatment of Vietnamese prisoners during this Fench occupation. It became a Vietnamese state prison in the 1950s, and more than 2,000 inmates were crammed in to a space originally designed for only 500.
This is the prison, dwarfed by the Somerset hotel:
These are mug shots of famous American POWs. John McCain is at the top right:
Political prisoners left messages in this almond tree:
This relief mural shows the French mistreatment of Vietnamese prisoners:
The memorial monument here was carved “in honor of patriotic and revolutionary combatants”:
We noticed that you could see the prison from the Somerset’s fourth floor playground, so we went up there to take a picture:
Noah had some fun and made friends on the Somerset playground: