Tiger Cages were built in 1940 and located between 2 blocks of jails. Each block retains a particular entrance, it will be hard to recognize the crimes apart from ordinary cells if seen from outside. The tiger cages and the cell are only separated by 1 old wicket which is always closed as no longer used. It is the wicket that leads to the entrance to the secret detention camp zones. Except for the jailers, none knows about the secret of the incommunicado place. Inside the detained incommunicado area is 120 solitary confinement rooms divided into 2 zones. It is home to 60 cells and 60 cells without roof, also known as the solarium room to torture prisoners. Discovering Tiger Cages is definitely one of the most unforgettable things to do in Con Dao.
Con Dao is one of the largest and oldest prisons in Vietnam. In 113 years of existence (1862-1975), it has imprisoned and banished thousands of Vietnamese revolutionaries and patriots. Con Dao is also the largest and most important "university" of Vietnam communists. Con Dao is not only the stories of the heroic revolutionary soldiers but also the love stories and humanity in the place of "hell on earth". Referring to Con Dao is to mention to the infamously creepy tiger cages. Tiger Cages have no official entrance gate but a small path through Banh III (Phu Tuong Camp) and sub-Banh III (Phu Tho Camp). Built secretly in 1940, the tiger cages are discreetly disguised deeply inside Phu Tuong Camp by French colonialists. Political prisoners brought here would be tortured to faint and returned by another door to distract... All prisoners did not have a chance to determine the prison's location, the ability to escape is thus impossible. It is distinctive architecture that had given Tiger Cages Con Dao to become one of the most impressive Con Dao attractions.
The zone is called as tiger cages because the camp and prison cells are built into the chambers with 1.45 m wide, 2.5 m long. All living activities such as eating or sleeping of the prisoners occurred right at the same place. The cells retained mullions on the roof with the walkway for jailers above to control and monitor prisoners locked in the cages below. On the ceiling of cell each were a bucket of water and a bucket of lime. The prison jailers would pour the water and lime down gloomy as the punishment for those who show their signs of protest. Those who were brought into the tiger cages were considered the imminent death by starvation, legs shackled and torture... It is also one of the brutally tortured measures which appeared only in medieval. Tiger cages are one of the must-see tourist attractions in Con Dao when tourists have an opportunity to set foot on the heroic land.
The prison zone was built with the aim of detaining senior Communist prisoners during the war. The tiger cages were disguised so cleverly that they had existed only as a rumor with covert operations for nearly 30 years until a group of American authorities sent to Vietnam to investigate accidentally found. At the tiger cages, prisoners were not any quiet moments. There were always prying eyes stalking from the prison jailers. They might be beaten or sprayed with lime anytime... Yet the Tiger Cages was the soul in the struggle protecting the revolutionary courage of political prisoners in Con Dao associating with the fight against the secessionist movement and anti-flag saluting. Heard the touching stories along with the fighting spirit of the heroic revolutionary soldiers, the journey of discovering Con Dao travel will certainly become much more memorable.
Tiger Cages monument was recognized as extremely important national relic area by Ministry of Culture - Information in 29th April 1979. In 10th May 2012, the Prime Minister issued decision recognizing Tiger Cages as Special National Monument. Thanks to the extremely enormous historical significance, French Tiger Cages has been deserved an indispensable tourist site in Con Dao tours. It displays its important contribution in promoting Con Dao tourism closer to domestic and international tourists.