Travel Travel

08/05/2018 - 14:43

An Dinh Palace: a golden tourist attraction waiting to be awaken

An Dinh Palace is located on the South bank of Hue, with a favorable position - natural attraction - harmony and bearing the special marks of neo-classical architecture.

An Dinh Palace by the An Cuu river

Unique architecture

An Dinh is the private palace of King Khai Dinh, located on the bank of An Cuu River, formerly De Bat Ward - Hue Town, now at 97 Phan Dinh Phung street, Hue. In the 14th year of Thanh Thai’s reign (1902), Phung Hoa Cong Nguyen Phuc Buu Dao (later King Khai Dinh) built his mansion, named An Dinh. In the 2nd year of Khai Dinh’s reign (1917), the king used his own money to renovate it with modern architecture.

After the Revolution of August 1945, the family of King Bao Dai moved from the Royal Palace to live in An Dinh Palace. After 1975, Tu Cung donated An Dinh Palace to the Revolutionary government. So far, the historical palace has been handed over to the Hue Monuments Conservation Center to promote its value.

An Dinh Palace faces south, towards the An Cuu river. The palace has a flat terrain and a total area of over 23,000m2. Originally, An Dinh had about ten architectural structures, from the front to the back including the boat landing, the main gate, Trung Lap temple, Khai Tuong pavilion, Cuu Tuong theater, the lake, etc.

Currently, only three structures have remained relatively intact; they are the main gate, Trung Lap temple and Khai Tuong pavilion. The main gate was built as a three-arched-entrance gate, and elaborately decorated with embellished terracotta. Behind the gate there stands Trung Lap octagonal temple on a high floor. Inside the temple there is an original statue of King Khai Dinh cast in 1920.

Khai Tuong pavilion is a monumental building with the style of a medieval European castle. The floor area is of 745m2, including three floors, 22 rooms, both living rooms, bedrooms and worship areas. The highlight of Khai Tuong pavilion is the art of wall-painting in the interior and the art of embossing reliefs on the exterior. Among them, six mural paintings depict scenes of five royal tombs of Kings: Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, Tu Duc, and Dong Khanh, King Khai Dinh's father. German experts in heritage conservation have helped restore these paintings.

Tourists visit An Dinh Palace

From 2014, the Hue Monuments Conservation Center has begun to display the space of Khai Tuong pavilion at An Dinh Palace, the first step to make An Dinh become an entry-charged tourist attraction since April 2015.

Coming to An Dinh, besides the buildings with unique architecture, visitors can also explore the residence of the Empress Dowager and King Bao Dai’s family in the period of 1945-1955, with nearly 100 original artifacts and re-enacted living space of King Bao Dai's family during this period.

Waiting for breakthroughs

In the service development plan on the basis of promoting the value of Hue Ancient Capital, in the period from 2012 to 2020, An Dinh Palace is expected to be invested in appropriate infrastructure to organize cultural and art activities, and exhibitions.

In addition to the exhibition space in Khai Tuong pavilion, exhibition and business services will be held in association with museums, crafts, and souvenirs. Cuu Tu Dai theater is restored and renovated for traditional art performances.

Over the past years, although the Hue Monuments Conservation Center has organized many activities to turn An Dinh Palace into an attractive destination, the number of visitors to this attraction is still modest. Even on a day when Vietnamese visitors can visit the Complex of Hue Monuments for free, An Dinh Palace welcomes only about 50 visitors.

According to Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Center, activities at An Dinh Palace have not been making breakthroughs because this destination is relatively separate from the Complex of Hue Monuments, resulting in some limitations on arranging sightseeing tours.

Previously, there were investors who wanted to provide completely-socialized services here, but they were not successful because they could not ensure the conservation and sustainable development of An Dinh Palace.

With a mode of cooperation, the center is planning to coordinate with another enterprise to operate services in An Dinh, including the opening of restaurants specializing in Hue cuisine, displays and sales of Hue souvenirs and typical handicrafts. In addition, Cuu Tu Dai theater will also be restored to become the destination of cultural and art performances for tourists.

Story and photos: Dong Van