Hoang A Tuong Palace: Unique structure in Bac Ha highland
Coming to Bac Ha town (Lao Cai), visitors will be surprised to see a massive villa in the middle of the town.
The mansion was painted a bright yellow with hidden European architectural elements.
That place is Hoang A Tuong’s mansion, which is also known as the “King of Cats of Bac Ha” and is thought to be the most powerful house in the white highlands.
The old mansion is more than a hundred years old. However, its unique architecture is still there, showing evidence of a historical time in this land.
About Hoang A Tuong Palace
When talking about the Bac Ha white plateau, visitors may immediately think of the white color of Tam Hoa plum flowers.
But Bac Ha, known for its plum flowers, also has Hoang A Tuong’s mansion, a unique place with the most luxurious look at one time.
The Hoang A Tuong house is named after the son of Hoang Yen Chao hereditary chief, who is from the Tay ethnic group.
People often call Mr. Tchao the Cat King, even though he is a Tay. This name is because about 70% of the people in the Bac Ha region were Mong (Meo), and Mr. Hoang Yen TChao was the leader of this land.
Where is Hoang A Tuong Palace?
The Hoang A Tuong palace is in the middle of Bac Ha town, about 70 km from the center of Lao Cai city.
The road from the city center to the unique mansion on the Bac Ha plateau has to go through dangerous passes. Still, the natural scenery along the way is stunning.
From Hanoi, visitors can take a taxi or a sleeper bus to Lao Cai City.
Tourists can rent a motorbike in Sapa for about 150,000 VND daily and ride it to the Pho Moi bridge on Nguyen Hue street.
From there, they can continue on National Highway 4D to the center of Bac Ha town.
At the Bac Ngam bridge, tourists turn right and go about 20 km until they reach road 153.
How much does Hoang A Tuong Palace’s entrance price cost?
To get money to fix up and preserve the heritage, Lao Cai started selling tickets to visit the Hoang A Tuong mansion at different prices at the beginning of September 2017:
Here’s the prices to get into Hoang A Tuong Palace:
- Adults: 20,000 Vnd/Ticket
- Children between the ages of 6 and 16: 10,000 VND
- Guests eligible for the policy will get 50% off their tickets.
- Children under 6: No charge
History of the Hoang A Tuong mansion
The Hoang family, the most powerful family in Bac Ha at the time, built and opened Hoang A Tuong Palace around 1914. It was first used in 1921.
The vast size, unique architecture, and mysterious stories about the castle’s owner are all historical relics showing how people lived in the highlands of Bac Ha (Lao Cai) under semi-feudal colonial rule.
Hoang Yen Chao owns the mansion and is a member of the feudal mandarin class. He was an official who ran a province in an area where ethnic minorities used to live. His job title was “land priest” of the Bac Ha region.
Under the control of French colonialists, this family owned and lived on farmland, forcing farmers in some areas to work as enslaved people for a set amount of time.
Also, Hoang Yen Tchao had the right to sell weapons, goods, mineral resources, and opium to France in exchange for food and supplies for the French soldiers’ station and lackey.
Because of this, this clan kept getting stronger and stronger. The luxury of the mansion was built with the peasants’ sweat, blood, and tears here.
The mansion has a common area for all Hoang Yen Chao’s family members, a living room, a meeting room, and a room for French missionaries and advisors to run the apparatus.
Impressive architectural beauty of Hoang A Tuong Palace
The whole mansion is 4000m2 and has 36 rooms. All the rooms are self-contained and solid and protected by a system of valuable wooden doors and fences.
People say that the Meo King’s home was very different from other buildings in Vietnam at the time because it was designed by two famous architects from Europe and China.
In particular, the mansion’s architecture mixes French architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries and Chinese architecture. Skilled Vietnamese workers built this mansion.
The Chinese architect is in charge of designing the mansion according to feng shui, which is supposed to bring good luck. European architects are in charge of giving the building a modern and elegant look.
Visitors will see a big flower bed right in front of the main house as they walk up. There are two rows of spiral stairs going up on each side.
Follow the stairs on both sides to get to the waiting room. From there, you can get to the rooms inside the mansion.
Even though a lot of the mansion is made in a Western-style, it still has a clear structure and traditional Asian features.
There is a clear line between the mansion’s left and right sides. The courtyard is in the middle. The palace is where many ceremonies, cultural events, and musical performances occur. It is designed with a lot of expensive and fancy things.
Details like grape leaves and laurel flowers on the walls and ceilings represent an entire, peaceful, and happy life.
The domes and spiral stairs make the building look beautiful and grand.
Many of the most modern materials of the time were used to build the mansion, which is something to keep in mind. Steel and concrete are brought up from Vietnam’s delta.
Other parts of the mansion were bought from China. On the other hand, several hundred workers mainly made bricks and tiles.
Some activities at Hoang A Tuong mansion
The Ministry of Culture and Information decided on June 11, 1999, that the Hoang A Tuong ancient mansion was a national relic because it had many unique features.
From 8:00 to 17:00, people can go to Hoang Yen Chao Palace and look around. The schedule works from Monday to Sunday every day of the week, even on holidays and New Year’s.
In general, the administrative units of Bac Ha district and Lao Cai province regularly hold cultural and artistic events (like photo exhibits and history quizzes) in the campus mansion.
Therefore, visitors can join friends to exchange with the Tay, Dao, and Mong ethnic people around the Bac Ha area and enjoy the activities of trumpet dancing and horse riding at the festival.
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