Côn Đảo is one of the witnesses of French and American colonial times in Vietnam. Côn Đảo Prison, Chúa Đảo Palace, and the Museum of Côn Đảo are three historical sites you should not miss if you want to learn about Vietnamese history. Visiting these three attractions, you will overview the crime of colonial and empire regimes as well as the patriotism and unyielding of Vietnamese soldiers.
Côn Đảo Prison is built by the French to detain particularly dangerous prisoners for the French colonial regime such as political prisoners, prisoners under the death penalty, etc. During the French colonial times, many communists and patriots who opposed the colonial government were arrested and prisoned. Later on, the Americans continued to use the prison in the war against the US.
Côn Đảo Prison Complex includes Phu Son Prison, Phu Hai Prison, Phu Tho Prison, Phu Tuong Prison, The Tiger Cage, the separated cow shed, Phu An Prison, Phu Phong, and Phu Hung Prison.
The most famous place in Côn Đảo Prison Complex is the “Tiger Cage” area which is the harshest solitary confinement in prison. Prisoners here were confined in a 5m² wide room with poor hygiene and eating conditions. They were shackled and had to lie on a damp cement floor, and were often tortured for interrogation.
Chua Dao Palace, also known as The Governor’s palace, is also a worthy attraction to visit if you would like to understand more about the magnanimous fighting history of Vietnam. Chua Dao Palace was formed between 1862 and 1876 with a total area of 18,600 m2. This place was formerly the home of 53 island kings, including 39 island kings during the French colonial period and 14 island kings during the American empire over 113 years. It used to be where the harsh policies for prisoners and measures to suppress and torture the prisoners were set. It was also the island kings’ accommodation and place of work, showing the luxurious life of domination besides the miserable and poor life of prisoners.
Besides Côn Đảo Prison and Chua Dao Palace, Côn Đảo Museum also stores a lot of artifacts and images during the two wars. The museum preserves the long-term cultural and historical heritages of Vietnam. It contributes a part to the sustainable tourism development of Côn Đảo District.