They were the cathedrals of colonial times, but sadly many of the world's grandest post offices have been destroyed or repurposed. Here are 7 that will still sell you stamps
Built in the far-flung corners of the globe when post was a vital – and sometimes only – link with the outside world, colonial-era post offices were also used as a statement of power and intent. Indeed, they were often the most beautiful, imposing and lavish buildings in the colonies.
These days, many of these amazing edifices remain. Most have been torn down or turned into luxury hotels and upmarket shopping precincts.
Some remain, however, selling stamps and cashing pensions. Below we list the most beautiful of them – the most amazing places to send a postcard from.
Inside Saigon Central Post Office (Shutterstock.com)
Situated downtown, near the equally impressive cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office was built between 1886 and 1891 by renowned architect Gustave Eiffel. The vaulted roof and arched windows are reminiscent of early European railway stations and an enormous picture of Ho Chi Minh overlooks proceedings.
Make sure to check out the stunning maps, painted on the walls. One shows Saigon and it’s environs. The other, all the telegraph lines in Cambodia and Vietnam.
Statue of top of Valencia post office (Shutterstock.com)
Started in 1915 and finished seven years later, the most striking feature of the building is the main entrance. It is flanked by double Ionic columns and semi-circular arches, crowned with impressive allegorical figures on top.
Make sure to hold onto your postcards and pop them in the lion-head post boxes out front.
Staircase at Palacio de Correos, Mexico City (Shutterstock.com)
If you like architecture, this is the building for you. Its style is highly eclectic and has been classed as Spanish Renaissance Revival, Plateresque, a Spanish Rococo style, Elizabethan Gothic, Elizabethan Plateresque and Venetian Gothic Revival. It also has Moorish, Neoclassical, Baroque and Art Deco elements.
See if you can pick out them all while you wait in the queue!
Post Office, Algiers (Shutterstock.com)
Designed in 1910, by Voinot and Tondoire, Algier's main post office is a fine example of French-designed early 20th-century Moorish architecture. Make sure you post your letter from arguably the world’s most beautifully decorated post box, right near the entrance.
Manila post office from river (Shutterstock.com)
Built beside the Pasig River, Manila’s main post office was central to Daniel Burnham’s plan for the city of Manila. The river made transporting mail easier and its central location, with converging avenues, made it accessible to everyone.
Kolkata General Post Office (Shutterstock.com)
Notable for its imposing high domed roof (rising over 220 feet) and tall Ionic-Corinthian pillars, the Kolkata General Post Office was built on the site of the first Fort Wiliam.
After you’ve admired the architecture, and popped into the Philatelic museum, check out the alley beside it. It was the site of the guardhouse that housed the infamous 1756 Black Hole of Calcutta.
Victoria Square, Adelaide (Schwede66)
Built between 1876-1872, the Adelaide General Post Office is one of the few colonial era post offices still selling stamps in Australia. (Both Sydney and Melbourne have turned theirs into shopping centres.)
The most expensive building built in South Australia during colonial times, its scale and impressive architectural detail – and prominent location in the centre of Adelaide – reflect its importance as the focus of the network of communication services in South Australia.
Have you come across any beautiful old post offices in your travels? Tell us about them in the comments below.
Main image: Saigon Central Post Office (Shutterstock.com)