Closely associated with the city’s history, the Municipal Theater is undoubtedly the emblem of Ho Chi Minh City and a popular tourist attraction.
The Municipal Theater is located in Dong Khoi street, District 1. Opened in 1900, the Theater still retains its original charm.
It was designed by Felix Olivier, Ernest Guichard, and Eugène Ferret in the Gothic style, a popular style in France in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is a replica of the Hanoi Opera House, which was inspired by the Opera Garnier in Paris.
The building features an outstanding combination of architecture and sculpture.
Nguyen Huu Thai, an architect in Ho Chi Minh City, said the French wanted to build a European-style modern city here. They liked large avenues and at major intersections, they built great public works of which the municipal theater is an example. This building is a harmonious blend of East and West. The materials used came from Asia and the architecture is European.
Its architecture is dominated by a flamboyant style with omnipresent embossed patterns. Its facade was inspired by the style of the Petit Palais Opera House, which was built the same year in Paris. The interior is well equipped with excellent acoustics and lighting. The building has a ground floor and upper floors accommodating 1,800 seats. Decorations, inscriptions and furniture were designed by French artists.
The theater used to be a popular meeting place of the French upper class. Some seats were reserved for great personages of the colonial authorities. In 1944, bombing by the allies seriously damaged the building. Eleven years later, the theater was used as the Headquarters of the Lower House of the Republic of Vietnam’s government. It was only in 1975 that its original function was restored.
The theater was restored in 1998 in the spirit of its original architecture with its goddess statues and relief sculptures. Acoustics and lighting have been installed to serve performances of various art genres.
Nguyen Anh Tu, a tourist from Hai Phong said this is a popular destination for tourists to Ho Chi Minh City. The theater embraces the beauty of French architecture. The large front garden and surrounding modern neighborhood contribute to its charm. The building glitters at night.
The Municipal Theater in Ho Chi Minh City is a place lovers of culture, history and architecture will be delighted to discover.