A retrospective stroll through Saigon's 320-year history

A photo exhibit on Saigon's Nguyen Hue walking street narrates the city's cultural, historical and urban development from its inception to the present day.

The "Over 320 Years of Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City’s Culture and History", with about 100 works, commemorates the 44th anniversary of Saigon - Gia Dinh being renamed Ho Chi Minh City on July 2, 1976.

Several images depict craft villages and daily life in Saigon - Gia Dinh in its early days when Vietnamese first reclaimed the land over 320 years ago.

The paintings above show Vietnamese immigrants following Nguyen Dynasty officials raising a settlement in the south during the 17th and 18th centuries. The dynasty (1802-1945) is Vietnam's last royal family.

19th century attendees gather under tiny separate ‘huts’ at a Gia Dinh school exam. The school's site is now home to the Youth Cultural House on Pham Ngoc Thach Street in District 1.

A Saigon family shares a meal in the 19th century.

One of Saigon’s most iconic buildings, Notre Dame Cathedral was built by the French in 1877. Since 2018, the church has undergone major renovation, expected to complete by 2025.

Norodom Palace, built in 1868, was destroyed by bombing in 1962 during the Vietnam War (1954-1975). The Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, was first built between 1868 and 1871 on the site of the former Norodom Palace. The building was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the war.

Aerial views of Saigon’s central District 1 in the French era and today (colored).

Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe Canal in 1955 and today (colored). The canal, about 10 km long and heavily polluted in the 1980s, hosted many slum settlements along its banks, which has been greened and cleaned up in recent years.

A bird-eyed view of Cho Lon (Chinatown) around 1950 and today (colored), featuring the Binh Tay Market, a 92-year-old wholesale hub built by a rice trader from China. Cho Lon, built by the Chinese community, was once a city of its own next to Saigon. Since its inception, trading life has remained central to the bustling area.

One of two tanks that slammed through the gates of the Independence Palace at around noon on April 30, 1975, marking the fall of Saigon regime which led to the national reunification. A year after this historic event, the National Assembly decided to change the name of the city to Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigonese visit Nguyen Hue Street, first turned into a flower display in 1981 after the national reunification. The city has upheld this tradition, organizing a flower festival along the street every Tet (the Lunar New Year holiday).

Over the past 45 years, Vietnam’s largest city has witnessed robust development.

District 2 and Binh Thanh District, divided by Saigon River, boasts the country’s tallest building - Landmark 81 (pictured) - at a height of 461 meters.

The exhibition takes place until July 22, and includes other entertainment activities related to Vietnam’s traditional dress, the ao dai, and folk games.