Stories from Nam Phuong Palace

Curated by BuffaloTripApril 22, 2015 Viewed: 1833

Queen Nam Phuong Palace (named after King Bao Dai’s wife) or Nguyen Huu Hao’s palace (Queen Nam Phuong is Nguyen Huu Hao’s daughter) is situated in a large pine forest along Hung Vuong street in Dalat. It is now under the management of the Lam Dong museum and was recently opened for visitors.

See more Dalat travel guide at here.

Recently, we had a chance to meet Hue researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan in Nam Phuong palace, and listen to many stories about this opulent villa and Queen Nam Phuong,  the last queen of feudal Vietnam.

“Researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan has just come to Dalat to help us display some documents and images, and share his stories about Queen Nam Phuong and her palace in Dalat. The manager, Pham Huu Tho of Lam Dong museum said.

An Opulent Structure

While taking us on a tour around the museum, Deputy manager Doan Bich Ngo of Lam Dong museum explains, “Built in French architectural style in 1930s, Nam Phuong is an ancient palace of Nguyen Huu Hao – a rich landlord in Go Cong (now Tien Giang), who built it as a gift for his daughter Nguyen Thi Lan or Queen Nam Phuong..  Located in an easy-to reach location, Nam Phuong palace with a classic, innovative French style attracts many architectural buffs”.

Although it is called a palace, Nam Phuong is not too spacious nor sophisticated. It stretches over 500m2, including a basement, a groundfloor and a second floor. We imagine Nguyen Huu Hao must have spent a lot of time designing the palace for his daughter who was soon to be married to King Bao Dai.

It is easy to see that Nam Phuong palace has a cubic design in classical and modern style with refined patterns, which are blends Western and Oriental décor.  

Queen Nam Phuong and Dalat

After a tour around Nam Phuong palace, Hue researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan told us, “I’m very happy that Lam Dong museum has opened this house for the public, so visitors can understand the life of a royal family in the Nguyen dynasty, Queen Nam Phuong’s family. Aside from Hue, Dalat has the mostremainingevidence of this last queen of Vietnam.

 

Queen Nam Phuong and King Bao Dai

I asked our guide about stories I’d heard about Queen Nam Phuong. Some say she was more French than Vietnamese. He had heard the same arguments but maintained that in Dalat, the people believe she was clearly Vietnamese.

He also explained that Queen Nam Phuong returned from her education in France, in part to observe King Bao Dai (her future husband) for the French.  They found her hard to control and when King Bao Dai saw her on the ship to Vietnam, they began a courtship.After their marriage, Queen Nam Phuong was respected for her efforts to bring Catholic dignitaries and the Nguyen dynasty together in agreement. She is also asked for sympathy with a letter :

“Since March, 1945, Vietnam has had independence, but for the French with the support of British military, Vietnamese people have had to shed our blood in this miserable nation… On behalf of millions of Vietnamese women, I entreat my friends and those, who make friends with Vietnamese, to raise your voice to defend their freedom…”

Hue researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan (on the right)

The last Queen of Vietnam is also known for many other acts in Dalat such as building a gravestone for her father, Duke Nguyen Huu Hao.

The Lam Dong museum is hopeful that with their collected documents, research from experts such as Nguyen Dac Xuan, and the magnificent building itself; Nam Phuong palace will continue to be a prominent figure in Vietnamese history.

See more Dalat travel guide at here.