Hoang A Tuong Castle (Hoang Yen Chao Castle)
|Every year when spring comes, the whole district Bac Ha, Lao Cai province, is coated with a white shirt of plum flowers. In the white background stands out a mansion complex of Hoang Yen Chao - Hoang A Tuong (father and son) in the greenery of boundless forests and mountains. For over 80 past years, moss-grown Hoang A Tuong mansion has become a destination for visitors far and wide.
The mansion was built in 1914 and completed in 1921, the owner is a governor - Hoang Yen Chao, father of Hoang A Tuong. Before 1945, Bac Ha was a semi-feudalist colony. Rulers were exploiter (like mandarins in the lowlands). Backed by the French colonialist, Hoang A Tuong and his father Hoang Yen Chao cruelly exploited the locals who were forced to work as servants and slaves and to hand in precious and valuable properties. Enriched, the ruler forced the locals to build his mansion, he paid for French or Chinese architects who directly designed and supervised the construction.
The mansion complex of Hoang A Tuong is a closed in compound, a good harmony of Asian and European architecture, two staircases lead to sitting-room, a large ground where celebrations or dances took place. The main mansion is two-storeyed on an area of 420m2. Doors were built in medieval European styles, different in heights and widths, each floor is 3-room, the side-rooms spared for family activities, the central room reserved for meeting or receptions. Interiors or exteriors were beautifully decorated, on both sides were two column-scrolls, characterising best withes and happiness and prosperities.. Further on either sides are subordinate houses, lower than the main one, close to the houses are two smaller and lower houses reserved for servants or watch-men. The mansion is surrounded by thick walls with 3-door gates (One main and two-side gates and fox-hole for security watch. Total area of the compound is 4.000m2. Building materials: steel, cement, bricks.. were produced on the spot under direct surveillance of the Chinese or brought from the lowlands. It's said that the plaster was a mixture of cement and honey that the rulers forced the locals to hand in.
A strict policy to protect and preserve the mansion-complex by Lao Cai People's committee and Department of Commerce and Tourism is underway to lure visitors to the region, to find out and to understand history of a prosperous but bygone era.
At present, this castle is put under a restoration scheme to better help tourists get insight into the changes of the local life.
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