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Hỏa Lò Prison Museum (Bảo tàng Nhà tù Hỏa Lò) in Hanoi city

Location : 1 Hỏa Lò, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Việt Nam

Opening hours: 8am-11.30am, 1.30pm-4.30pm Tue-Sun, closed Mon

Established by the French colonial government in 1896, Hoa Lo Prison was originally used to detain political prisoners and formed part of a Northern network of ‘unjust and cruel prisons’ which included Cao Bang, Son La, Lai Chau and Hai Phong. Ironically, The Americans called this prison “Hanoi Hilton” during the Second Indochina War.

Many leaders of revolutionaries were imprisoned here during the French colonial period, including Phan Bội Châu, Hoàng Trọng Mậu, Lương Văn Can, Nguyễn Quyền, Nguyễn Lương Bằng and five future General Secretaries of the Communist Party – Nguyễn Văn Cừ, Lê Duẩn, Trường Chinh, Nguyễn Văn Linh and Đỗ Mười.

Between 1964 and 1973 the prison’s inmates included several captured American pilots, notably Senator John McCain and Douglas ‘Pete’ Peterson, America’s first Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam.

Most of the original prison was demolished in 1996 to make way for the Hanoi Towers (now Somerset Grand Hanoi) serviced apartment and office complex, but the southernmost corner has been preserved and reopened to the public as a memorial to the revolutionaries who died here in atrocious conditions. Visitors can view the original cells, complete with leg-irons, along with a selection of bilingual (Vietnamese and English) displays illustrating the horrors of life in the prison during the French colonial period.

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