Reviving the Ancient Heritage of Vietnam: Kien Trung Palace

Kien Trung Palace is a remarkable architectural landmark within the Nguyen Dynasty's court system during the early 20th century.

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Kien Trung Palace was constructed during the reign of King Khai Dinh with the word “Kien” meaning to build or establish, and “Trung” meaning uprightness, according to the Hue Monuments Conservation Center. It is one of 5 important works under the Nguyen Dynasty, along with Thai Hoa Palace, Can Chanh Palace, Can Thanh Palace, and Khon Thai Palace.

Kien Trung Palace is one of 5 important works under the Nguyen Dynasty. Photo: Danangprivatecar

During the time of King Minh Mang, the construction of the Minh Vien Pavilion, which had a total height of about 10.8 meters, was initiated on the land where Kien Trung Palace now stands. This structure was later destroyed during the reign of King Tu Duc.

In 1919, the King Duy Tan led the mobilization of labor to build the Du Cuu Pavilion on the same site. During the reign of King Khai Dinh, the Du Cuu Pavilion area was expanded to build a palace named Kien Trung, which became the main residence of the king within the imperial citadel.

In terms of architecture, in front of Kien Trung Palace is a scenic garden with three beautifully sculpted dragon staircases leading up to the palace terrace. Photo: Danangprivatecar

Kien Trung Palace was entirely rebuilt in a Neo-Classical style from 1921 to 1923. The large-scale project, bearing the distinctive Khai Dinh era style, featured intricate and meticulous decorations, particularly the use of porcelain pieces on a lime plaster background. Further repairs and additions were made during the reign of King Bao Dai.

In 1932, King Bao Dai renovated the interior of the palace and introduced modern conveniences from the West, including bathtubs. After the August Revolution, Kien Trung Palace became the venue for King Bao Dai’s meeting with the Provisional Government delegation to discuss abdication.

The palace interior has been adorned by the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum with European porcelain, noble blue-colored tables and chairs, and palanquins. Photo: Baoquocte

After 1945, when many important architectural works in the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden City were almost destroyed, Kien Trung Palace remained as ruins. After 72 years (1947-2019), the restoration project for Kien Trung Palace commenced, and now, after 5 years, the construction is nearly completed. It will open its doors to visitors in the Giap Thin Lunar New Year (2024).

The palace interior has been adorned by the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum with European porcelain, noble blue-colored tables and chairs, and palanquins, recreating the processions of ancient Emperors and Queens.

The interior furnishings of the palace are splendid and luxurious. Photo: Danangprivatecar

The investment in Kien Trung Palace includes the overall renovation of foundation walls, a railing system, campus yard, Tien Vien and Hau Vien, and the restoration of Kien Trung Tower, technical infrastructure system, and green trees.

What makes Kien Trung Palace special is the combination of Vietnamese architecture and Western construction style. It is a unique and remarkable project that represents a distinct period of traditional Hue royal architecture.

Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Department of Culture and Sports of Thua Thien Hue province, was one of the key figures behind the restoration project for Kien Trung Palace. With the successful restoration, he hopes that 2024 will mark the sublimation of this heritage.

On February 6, 2024, Hoang Viet Trung, Director of the Hue Imperial City Conservation Center, announced that the restoration project for Kien Trung Palace had completed 100% of the construction.

During the first 3 days of Tet, the relics managed by the Hue Monuments Conservation Center received approximately 65,000-68,000 visits, including about 12,000 international visitors, according to the Department of Tourism of Thua Thien Hue.

In terms of feng shui, Kien Trung Palace is located at the northernmost point of the celestial axis passing through the center of the Imperial City. The combination of Renaissance Italian architecture, French architecture, and the distinctive features of ancient Vietnamese structures imparts a unique and exquisite beauty to the palace.

In terms of feng shui, Kien Trung Palace is located at the northernmost point of the celestial axis passing through the center of the Imperial City. Photo: Baoquocte

In terms of architecture, in front of Kien Trung Palace is a scenic garden with three beautifully sculpted dragon staircases leading up to the palace terrace. The facade is adorned with prominent colorful ceramic pieces.

The main floor consists of 13 open doors, with the central space having 5 doors, and each side space having 3 doors, with two corner spaces on each side having 2 doors. All are designed to protrude outward.

The upper floor of the palace is the attic, with architecture similar to the main floor. At the top is a tiled roof with decorative railings in the traditional Vietnamese style.

Charlotte Pho