About 140 kilometers away from the mountainous province of Ha Giang in Vietnam’s north lies a century-old mansion, the former home of a glorious royal family.
Vuong Palace is surrounded by two thick stone walls
Photo: Doanh Nhan Sai Gon Cuoi Tuan " style="text-decoration:none"> Vuong Palace is surrounded by two thick stone walls Photo: Doanh Nhan Sai Gon Cuoi Tuan
Built in the early 20th century, the mansion was the royal palace of Vuong Chinh Duc, known as Vua Meo (King of the H’Mong ethnic people).
Vua Meo, who born in 1865 and died in 1947, ruled over a vast empire stretching from the province’s Dong Van Plateau to Meo Vac Town in the early 20th century.
Unlike other royal structures in Vietnam, which have elaborate carvings and are decorated with gold and silver, Vuong Palace is a simple and solemn structure on a 1.2 square kilometer site in Sa Phin District.
Built from stone, pine and terracotta tiles, the palace resembles the structures found in China during the Qing Dynasty three or four century ago, Doanh Nhan Sai Gon Cuoi Tuan (Saigon Businessmen Weekend) magazine reported.
Legend has it that more than 100 years ago, Vua Meo invited a Chinese geomancer to Ha Giang to find a suitable location for his palace.
A tortoise shell-shaped mound behind two mountains was chosen as the site of the king’s home.
The palace took eight years to build using skilled construction workers from China. It cost Vua Meo 150 silver coins, the equivalent of VND150 billion (US$8.7 million) nowadays.
The two-story palace, which was the official residence of Vua Meo, his three official wives and their children, is surrounded by two thick two to three-meter-high stone walls, with cherry trees and bamboo between the two protective walls.
Vuong Palace has 64 rooms, all decorated with carvings of dragons, phoenixes and bats, symbols of royalty and prosperity.
The palace is also decorated with poppies, reflecting the Vuong family’s interest in the opium trade. Vua Meo was also believed to have been an opium addict.
The structure also has areas for the storage of food, opium and weapons, as well as a European-style fireplace and a stone bathtub where the family bathed in goat milk.
The entrance of the palace features a red lacquer and gold panel given to Vua Meo in 1913 by Emperor Khai Dinh one of Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty rulers.
Inside, a picture of Vua Meo in feudal mandarin attire is on display.
In the grounds of the mansion are the graves of the king’s first wife and one of his sons, Vuong Chi Sinh.
Sinh, who was renamed Vuong Chi Thanh by President Ho Chi Minh, devoted years of his life for the country’s resistance wars.
The government granted Vuong Palace national cultural heritage status in 1993 and turned the building into a tourist attraction.
Vuong family members are now caretakers and tour guides at the palace, who retell glorious tales of Vua Meo.