Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1, the Central Post Office is one of the city’s oldest buildings, an attractive destination for local and foreign visitors.

It was built between 1886 and 1891, based on the design of famous French architects.

In 1860, construction of the building began and it was based on the design of Gustave Eiffel, a popular French architect who has designed Eiffel tower. Three years later the building was put into operation.

However, in 1886, because of its overload, the building was rebuilt under the design of Villedieu, also a French architect and was inaugurated in 1891. Blending a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and French influences, the 26,000 square metre building fascinates tourists with its typical French colonial features, from exterior to interior decorations.

Visitors feel that they’re in a 20th century railway station in Europe, rather than a post office in Asia.

The front of the building is decorated in rectangle cases on which are the names of the inventors of the telegram and electric professions. On the cases are the pictures of men and women wearing laurel wreaths.

On the arc of the building, there is a huge clock with Roman numerals instead of numbers. The frames of the windows are designed with engaged piers, crowned with imaginative human-headed characters. The green window shutters resemble those of any other French colonial building.

“The clock is checked and cleaned regularly, especially the cogwheels, to ensure its accuracy. I really enjoy watching the clock every day, said Bui Nhan Duc, Saigon Central Post Office staff.

Walking inside, the first things visitors notice are the two maps describing the city in the past and a postal route from Vietnam to Cambodia.

The busiest post office of Vietnam not only provides the usual mail services but also offers phones and fax machines for public use, as well as sells stamps and souvenirs. The specialty stamps counter of the General Post Office offers some interesting collector sets for sale.

This post office is famous not only for its architecture but also its wide range of high quality services, Le Thi Kieu Oanh, Saigon Central Post Office staff, said adding that it is also a tourist attraction in the city.

Visiting the post office, tourists will not forget a man who sits at the end of a long wooden table underneath a mural of Ho Chi Minh, behind the sign “Information and Writing Assistance”.

Duong Van Ngo has been working as a public letter writer in both English and French for 23 years. Being the last letter writer in Saigon, he has many stories of how he has connected people across the planet with his fountain pen.

“Though I am 83 years old now, I feel happy to help people write letters in foreign languages. This job also offers me the chance to talk with foreigners and introduce the city to them,” Ngo said.

The Central Post Office is located near the large shopping centre Diamond Plaza, and the dominating Notre Dame Cathedral. The three buildings together make it a popular area in District 1 for visitors.

David Lucchetti, Italian tourist, said that this is his first time to Vietnam. The post office is more beautiful than he saw in photos.

“It is a mixture of French and Asian architecture,” he said.

At night, the post office sparkles. At the end of September 2013, France’s Lyon city provided technical support to the city in decorating the post office with lights.

Despite the development of the internet, mobile phones and home delivery services, people still visit the Saigon Central Post Office to enjoy not only its postal services but also its unique architecture.-VNA