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Hoa Lo Prison
By Hanoi Local Guide


Euphemistically called by the French, the Maison Centrale, this is another infamous hostelry, known to American GIs as the “Hà Nội Hilton”. Hoa Lo Prison was designed by Auguste-Henri Vildieu and built by the French in 1899.

Originally much larger and planned to hold 450 prisoners, records show that at one time in the thirties under the French, it held nearly 2,000 in what must have been desperately cramped and miserable conditions. Many Vietnamese nationalist leaders were incarcerated here, no fewer than five future General Secretaries of the Vietnamese Communist Party and later, numerous American POWs. One of them, Pete Peterson, later became the first American Ambassador to Việt Nam in 1997; also held there, John McCain. It was used as a prison right up to 1994.

When the tower and hotel were built next door, only a very small part of the prison was retained as a museum, preserving a few cells, their rusty shackles and instruments of torture. Among them is a guillotine, used to behead Vietnamese resistance fighters during the colonial period. Considered a swift, compassionate means of execution by the French, the guillotine was used in France until 1977!

5 Reviews of Hoa Lo Prison

Definitely worth a visit, more to it than I expected!

My son and I visited Hoa Lo prison and we both enjoyed the experience. I believe it was his favourite sight in Hanoi. It only took us about 45 mins to see everything as the prison is just a fraction of the size it...

Prinson used in war

The Hoa Lo Prison, later known to American prisoners of war as the "Hanoi Hilton", was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during...

The attracting location of Hanoi

In 1993, on the ground of Mars Lo tower Hanoi - a trade center was built, the rest became a historic revolutionary special capital, which is evidence of the crime area of France. Here preserved many documents and...

An integral part of history.

If you haven't yet visited the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), then you should definitely drop in during your next trip to Hanoi. The prison was built in 1896 by the French, and then later in 1954, the Vietnamese...

Very nice

This is a historical place.You should go there to know Prison of France in Vietnam.Highly recommend

Next to Army Museum
Overviews Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison tips and photos posted by real travelers and Hanoi locals.
Location Hanoi
Basin countries Vietnam
Properties Historical, Architecture, Museums, Cruise
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Official Site Vietnam Travel

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