Palatial birthplace of Vietnam’s last king carries multiple influences

By Vo Van Hoang   July 24, 2019 | 04:42 pm GMT+7

The An Dinh Palace, built in 1917 in the ancient capital of Hue, marries three architectural styles - Vietnamese, Chinese and French.

Palatial birthplace of  Vietnam’s last king carries multiple influences

An Dinh Palace was built by the 12th emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Khai Dinh (reigning 1916-1925), and was the birth place of his son who later became the last emperor of Vietnam, Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy aka King Bao Dai (ruling 1926 to 1945).

It is located on the bank of the An Cuu River, 9 km from the Hue Imperial Citadel in central Vietnam. Originally there were 10 structures in the palace, but today only three are intact, the main gate, Trung Lap Communal House and Khai Tuong house.

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The main gate is made of lime bricks and has sophisticated carvings in porcelain and colored glass. Both sides have elaborate images of dragons, phoenixes, unicorns, and flowers and engraved Chinese characters.

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Trung Lap is a model of a typical Vietnamese communal house situated between the gate and Khai Tuong house.

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Trung Lap's roof has two layers, the upper one with four sides and the lower one with eight. All 12 edges have dragons. Inside is a life-size bronze statue of Khai Dinh.

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Khai Tuong house was built in 1918. The most important building in the An Dinh Palace complex, it has three floors and 22 rooms and western design influences.

In 1916 Khai Dinh ascended the throne. He decided to renovate the palace, expand it and build more structures.

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At the time Khai Tuong house was built western culture, especially French architecture, had a strong influence on Vietnam. This is evident from the construction materials, architectural style, and interiors and exteriors of the house.

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At the entrance are six murals commissioned by Khai Dinh depicting the tombs of his predecessors. At the center of the room stands the statue of young Bao Dai, which was built to commemorate his crowning as prince and moving to An Dinh Palace to reside in April 1922.

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The pillars and stairways feature western decorative motifs.

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The back of the house, where Cuu Tu Dai Theater once stood. It was one of the other important structures in the palace complex but was completely dismantled during wartime.

According to historical accounts, the theater was 1,150 square meters in size, had two floors and a capacity of more than 500 people. It was also said to resemble the Hanoi Opera House built by the French colonialists that still stands today.

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An engraved mural of a vase on a wall in An Dinh palace. The complex marks a period when Vietnamese art began to be influenced by western art.

 
 
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