White Palace or White Mansion (Vietnamese: Bạch Dinh; French: Villa Blanche) is a mansion with European architecture at the end of the 19th century, located on the slopes of Lớn (Big) Mountain of Vung Tau. This is a national historical relic and a tourist attraction of the city.

History of White Palace

In 1820, the Emperor Minh Mang built Phuoc Thang Fortress here to control the Can Gio estuary. After controlling Indochina, the French colonial government flattened the fortress to build a mansion used as a resort for the Governor-General of French Indochina. At a result, the Villa was started the construction in 1898 and completed in 1902. Also, it called Villa Blanche, and due to the exterior paint color, the local people called Bach Dinh (White Palace).

White Palace

From September 1907 until 1916, this palace was under house arrest for Emperor Thanh Thai before he being finally exiled to Reunion island in Africa. The White Palace was used again as the resort of the Governor-General of Indochina.

In 1934, the palace was ceded to be a resort for Emperor Bao Dai and his wife. In the following years, it was always used as a vacation place for the head of state or high-ranking officials of the government of the Republic of Vietnam.

White Palace

After 1975, the palace was not used for any specific purpose before it was officially converted into a tourist destination. On August 4, 1992, Bạch Dinh (White Palace) was recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Information as a national historical and cultural relic.

Architecture of White Palace

The White Palace is located in the south of Big Mountain (Vietnamese: núi Lớn), 27m above sea level. The palace followed architectural nuances of France in the late 19th century, overlooking Front Beach, surrounded by a small forest with many types of trees, especially porcelain trees. 

White Palace

There is a road for cars up to the an entrance hall or you can choose a walking path through 146 ancient steps to reach the palace.

White Palace

a walking way to White Palace

The palace is placed with its back against the hills behind and facing the big sea in front, not only creating a stable stance but also helping those living inside to admire the sunrise and rolling ripples floating on the ocean surface right outside the window. Besides, this position of “leaning against the mountains facing the water” also has a very important meaning in terms of feng shui and spirituality.

White Palace

When visiting the palace, visitors can admire French architecture from shape to decoration with very artistic decorative edges. Colored glazed porcelain is the main material for decorating and creating images. A pair of peacocks with emerald green color, dotted with sparkling silver dots, are spreading their wings and dancing, giving the house an elegant appearance.

The faces of beautiful European women, like the gods in Greek mythology; a pair of carp curls as if they wants to turn into a dragon; Chrysanthemums and sunflowers surround the house, sparkling in the morning light, glowing yellow in the sunlight, making White Palace even more splendid.

White Palace in Vung Tau

Another impressive decoration is the 8 portraits of ancient Greek gods mounted on a straight line surrounding the main walls of the building. Their body are clearly expressed, sharp and delicate. 

White Palace in Vung Tau

White Palace or Bạch Dinh has 3 floors with total 19m high, 25m long, the entire house is whitewashed, with domed doors and tiled roof. Today, the ground floor of Bach Dinh still preserves valuable antiques that were used for decoration in the past. These are items imbued with Vietnamese cultural traditions such as the Royal sofa set dating back to 1921 under the reign of Emperor Khai Dinh, pair of ancient vases, a set of the three Stargods Fu, Lu, Shou – the Sanxing. In addition, there is also an item imported from far away overseas: a pair of 1.7 meter long African elephant tusks that represent the royal aristocratic style of the building’s owner.

White Palace in Vung Tau

Not only preserving objects of the ancient owners, today White Palace is also used as a place to display precious antiques, including cannons and especially a set of “undersea treasures” that were recovered from ships that unfortunately sank in the waters off Con Dao area around the 17th century.

Cannons in White Palace

These are thousands of beautiful Chinese ceramic items made during the reign of King Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty.

Useful information

  • Location: 6 Trần Phú Street, Ward 1, Vũng Tàu city.
  • Best for: Family, couple, solo
  • Entrance: from 15.000VND/1 ticket
  • Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00
  • Other tourist spots nearby: Thích Ca Phật Đài, Front beach, Nghinh Phong cape…

Source: collected by An

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