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20/09/2019 - 06:19

An Hien Garden House - valuable revival

After three months of being put into operation back, tourists everywhere come to An Hien Garden House - the garden house viewed as the epitome of Hue – in order to be immersed in the romantic ancient space with fragrant flowers and sweet fruit.

Right from the outer gate, tourists feel  like being lost in another world, with the poetic but no less luxurious beauty

In that space, there are điệu hò nam ai and mái nhì (Central Vietnam’s folk songs) and special cakes offered...

Up the Huong River towards Kim Long, An Hien Garden House is located on Nguyen Phuc Nguyen Street, facing the river, near Thien Mu Pagoda now bustling with tourists.

With the admission ticket of VND 35,000 per person, tourists can not only visit the famous house but also experience many other interesting things.

An Hien and revival

Referring to Hue, people will think of heritages, temples and mausoleums and cannot forget the garden house - one of the famous destinations anyone that has ever set foot on will be unforgettable. Mentioning Hue garden houses, people will think of An Hien Garden House because the historical story made a reputation for the owner and the writing on it.

One afternoon in early autumn, following the group of tourists, we came to An Hien Garden House to breathe the fresh air and stopped in the garden house after a long time of being repaired. The car has just stopped. The mossy gate of An Hien Garden House that has gone through the ups and downs remains intact, getting many people to admire and desire to hurry in to explore.

It is not difficult to recognize the architectural characteristics of Hue garden houses. The nhà rường  (the wooden house without main pillars) lies in the middle; the feng shui design has the left - right, front - back fence. From the main gate of the garden, to enter the house, tourists seem to stray into the romantic world with trees grown on both sides of the path.

How wonderful it is. Just in the bustling quarter, but only after 10-minute drive, we are in such a beautiful garden space. From the gate to the screen is like a picture,”tourist Nguyen Thanh Nhan (Ho Chi Minh City) said so before being introduced by the guide to the history of the house, and the journey of revival to welcome tourists…..

Upon setting foot on the house, the guide introduced this rare "work of art" to many people’s amazement. Built in the late 19th century by owner Pham Dang Thap - a mandarin under the Nguyen Dynasty, in 1934, An Hien Garden House was bought back by quan tuần phủ (the mandarin in charge of the province) Nguyen Dinh Chi as a residence of his family. When he passed away, his wife, Ms. Dao Thi Xuan Yen, continued to live and took great pains  to create a garden typical of Hue.

“She was a historical figure of Hue. She came from Binh Dinh, went to Hue for study at Dong Khanh School, and then became the principal of this school in the 50s of last century. She was good at French, knew English, Chinese, and was a member of the National Assembly in the 1980s,” a gentle guide in a long dress slowly answered tourists.

" Were we to reside here, we‘d probably live a few years longer"

Also according to the tour guide, in 1997 she passed away, the heirs lived far away, so the garden house was gradually degraded, damaged; many valuable artifacts were lost to the regret of many people.

It was not until more than a year ago that the family members decided to resell An Hien Garden House to Silk Path Hotel Joint Stock Company based in Hanoi.

Many people worry that An Hien Garden House will have the same fate as some other Hue garden houses, or it will be changed in function, or commercialized, or for a certain purpose. It was not until the new owner decided to keep intact and restore the value of the garden house that many people ... breathed a sigh of relief.

The screen and lake viewed from the inside of the house

The interior artifacts inside the house have been rediscovered with the new owner’s great effort. Particularly the two valuable bức hoành phi (horizontal lacquered boards engraved with Chinese characters), the pieces of marble supporting house pillars, incense bowls, daily life utensils of copper, porcelain ... are returned to the old place. Outside the garden, white apricots, camellia, pomelos ... grow verdant thanks to human care.

In particular, the old owner's altar has been kept intact by the new owner, creating the soul and old value ​​for the house. Stepping out of the garden space, many tourists relaxed and sat under the trees as if they had sought a bit of rare peace amidst the bustling and modern life.

Standing quietly under the lush trees in the garden, tourist Nguyen Kim Toan (Ninh Binh) exclaimed, “So beautiful”! Mr. Toan said he had gone to many places, and never seen a beautiful garden house like An Hien; everything was perfectly and methodically arranged to every detail.

"If we resided here, we’d probably live a few years longer", Mr. Toan joked but with honesty and continuous praise. Along with the garden experience, tourists can enjoy Hue traditional music program at the fixed time in the morning and afternoon, enjoying tea and cakes right in this space.

According to the garden house’s representative, when deciding to buy back An Hien Garden House, the unit does not put emphasis on turnover but would like to preserve the rare historical value. After being put into operation, every day, the garden welcomes from a few dozen to several hundred tourists to visit, take photos.

In addition, the house also becomes an attractive destination for directors, filmmakers who desire to use the background of the garden house, the quiet and poetic space of Hue.

Story and photos: Phan Thanh

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