23/09/2009 | 10:16:13

Maison Centrale

Hanoi Hilton or Maison Centrale in Hanoi is such a place where you can visit during your tour to Hanoi.

Maison Centrale in Hanoi is a prison built by the French in 1896. It was built to house up to 450 opponents of colonialism. The Hoa Loa Prison (Vietnamese: Hoa Lo;, meaning "fiery furnace") was later ironically known to American Prisoners of war as the Hanoi Hilton. The French called the prison Maison Centrale - a usual term to denote prisons in France.

The exclusive features of Maison Centrale in Hanoi include:

-   Maison Centrale in Hanoi comprises of tiny, damp and dark cells that evoke eerie claustrophobia, which would be multiplied by the use of manacles and the presence of rats.

-   More recently, American prisoners of war were kept here, including the first ambassador to Vietnam, Pete Peterson.

-   Today, only a small section remains and it is preserved as a museum.

-   The main complex, the Maison Centrale in Hanoi, is now a museum. Most of it was demolished during the construction of a high rise that now occupies most of the site.

-   The interrogation room where many newly captured Americans were interrogated and tortured, notorious among former prisoners as the "blue room," is now made up to look like a very comfortable, if Spartan, barracks-style room.

-   Displays in the room claim that Americans were treated well and not tortured, in stark contradiction to the many claims of former prisoners that the room was the site of numerous acts of torture.

-   The visitor can see a guillotine on which several of the members of the Vietnamese resistance were executed at Maison Centrale in Hanoi.

-   The cells where prisoners were shackled to their concrete cots are a terrible reminder of the cruelties of colonialism. Also found in this museum is the flight suit, parachute, and other items which once belonged to John McCain and were confiscated when he was captured.

-   A guillotine, a reminder of how the French dealt with their most serious "criminals "still stands in the center of a large room at Maison Centrale in Hanoi.

The Maison Centrale in Hanoi or Hanoi Hilton was depicted in the eponymous 1987 Hollywood movie Hanoi Hilton./.


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