French lensman depicts Vietnam’s travel destinations in late 19th century

French photographer Pierre Dieulefils documented Vietnamese landmarks like Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Ha Long Bay and Ban Gioc Waterfall in the late 19th century.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

The 2.29-kilometer Long Bien Bridge, which connects the downtown district of Hoan Kiem with Long Bien District, was built between 1898 and 1902 by the French during their colonial rule. It was initially called Doumer Bridge after Paul Doumer, a French governor-general of Indochina.
At the time of construction it was one of the world's longest bridges. After the country’s liberation it was renamed Long Bien Bridge.
Pierre Dieulefils was a soldier in Indochina before returning to Vietnam in 1888 to follow his passion for photography. A total 261 of his photos, taken across Vietnam, were printed in the book "Beautiful and Magnificent Indochina" released last August.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

An aerial view of Nam Dinh Town's center. The town is now capital of Nam Dinh Province in northern Vietnam, nearly 90 km from Hanoi.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

Ha Long Bay more than a century ago.
In 1994, the bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh was recognized by UNESCO as a world natural heritage, earning it global fame.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

Ban Gioc is considered Vietnam’s most beautiful waterfall, one of the largest natural waterfalls in Southeast Asia, and also the fourth largest in the world amongst those located on an international border.
Ban Gioc Waterfall is located in Trung Khanh District of Cao Bang Province on the border with China, around 340 km (225 miles) to the north of Hanoi.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

The area outside the Hue Imperial Citadel in Hue Town, central Vietnam.
The relic was built under the reigns of King Gia Long and Minh Mang, located to the north of Huong (Perfume) River. It combines traditional Vietnamese architecture, the eastern philosophy of yin and yang, and Western military architecture.
Gia Long was the first Emperor (ruling 1802-1820) of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam's last royal family (1802-1945), while Minh Mang was the second Emperor (ruling 1820-1841).

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

Mossy stone steps at Thieu Tri Mausoleum, the tomb of Emperor Thieu Tri, the third Nguyen Dynasty King (ruling 1841-1847).
This area is now part of the Hue Monuments Complex recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage in 1993. Today, the mausoleum is located in Cu Chanh Village of Huong Thuy Town in Hue.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

Nine dynastic urns are located in front of The Mieu Temple in the Hue Imperial Citadel. Construction on these nine urns started in December 1835 and completed in June 1837 under the reign of King Minh Mang.
Each urn was decorated with 17 bas-reliefs and named in accordance with the posthumous titles of Nguyen emperors worshipped at The Mieu Temple.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

Binh Loi Bridge in Saigon in the early 20th century.
Stretching 276 m with six spans, Binh Loi was the first bridge to cross Saigon River and part of the initial phase of the Saigon-Nha Trang railway line. It was built by Levallois-Perret, a construction company formed out of the former Maison Eiffel, founded by legendary engineer Gustave Eiffel.
Last June, the bridge was dismantled because of deterioration after more than 100 years.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

Boats in front of a factory in Cho Lon area, formed between the 17th and 19th centuries when ethnic Chinese and their relatives settled here and built a bustling area.
In the French colonial time, Cho Lon was a town distinct from Saigon. The two were combined in 1956. Currently, the Cho Lon area is located in Saigon's Districts 5 and 6.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

A view of the old Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral.
The church did not have two bell towers when inaugurated in 1880. They were later added in 1985, to include a total of six large bronze bells, with two crosses at the top, 60.5 m above ground.
Located in a tourist precinct that includes the historic Central Post Office in District 1, the 140-year-old cathedral is popular among foreign and local visitors, especially during holiday season.

Vietnam, landmarks, tourist destinations, 19th century

Pierre Dieulefils (1862-1937) joined the army in 1883 and was later assigned to Indochina in 1885. Two years later, he was discharged and returned to France. In 1888, he returned to northern Vietnam and became a professional photographer and postcard publisher.
In 1909, he gathered a set of photos on Indochina and published a photo book entitled "Indo-chine Pittoresque & Monumentale: Annam - Tonkin". The work earned him a gold medal at the Brussels International Exposition of 1910.

Photos by Pierre Dieulefils

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