Sunday, 17 March 2013

Hoang A Tuong Palace, Bac Ha

We called at this little known palace (so little-known that it didn't even feature in our guide book!) on our way back to Bac Ha after visiting the colourful market at Can Cau.  It was well worth the stop!!

Designed by two architects - one French and one Chinese - and built between 1914 and 1921, this building is a magnificent folly which really stands out amongst the local buildings and rice paddies.  Hoang A Tuong, after whom the palace is named, and his father, Hoang Yen Chao, were members of the ethnic Tay group.  The latter reigned over the local people from 1905 to 1953 under the protection of the French colonists, and built the palace to represent his wealth and power.  He owned most of the fertile land in the area and forced everyone to pay tax on everything they grew or made.  He also had a monopoly on the sale of salt, drugs, food and other consumer goods.

The palace is large, covering an area of 4,000 square metres.  Interestingly, for the want of a more suitable material, the mortar was mixed with sugar molasses and this was used to reinforce the walls and battlements.

The palace was built according to the rules of Feng Shui in order to bring good fortune to its owner and occupants.  Unfortunately, it didn't work as the family was forced out of the palace in the 1950s and it was then left to fall into disrepair.  It is currently being restored to its former glory, the aim being to make it a well-known tourist attraction.

You can see more of my photos of the palace here.

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