An Hien garden house
Update3/24/2020 2:43:17 PM
If traditional garden house is one of Hue cultural heritages, An Hien must be one of the most typical examples still remain today.
An Hien garden house in the movie series "The Muse of Hue". Photo:
An Hien garden house in the movie series "The Muse of Hue". Photo:

An Hien garden house is located at 58 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, Kim Long ward, Hue city. It is not very far from Thien Mu Pagoda and Hue Imperial City. Similar to other constructions and ancient architectures built in the northern bank of the Huong river, the famous garden house faces this romantic river.

In the middle of the 17th century, Lord Nguyen Phuc Lan selected Kim Long as the center of Dang Trong (the South Vietnam). Ever since, a golden period began.  At the time, late director Alexandre de Rhodes visited Kim Long, which he called "the cette grande ville". As recorded by the film-maker, it was home to majestic garden houses with beautiful designs. This is the very first decription of Kim Long garden house in the first half of the 1640s.

Under Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), Phu Xuan became the center of Dang Trong (the South Vietnam) and later, the capital of Vietnam. More and more royals and noble families had their houses built in Kim Long.

It is believed that people can not avoid ups and downs no matter how powerful and wealthy they are. So did Kim Long houses' owners who had their houses sold. An Hien was not an exception as it was in the hand of many different owners. According to a written document recording the history of An Hien, its very first owner was the daughter of Emperor Duc Duc (1883). In 1895, it is under the management of Mr. Pham Dang Khanh (so-called Pham Dang Thap), the cousin of Madam Tu Du (Pham Thi Hang). Mr. Khanh started to renovate An Hien. In 1920, Mr. Khanh sold the garden house and moved to Duc Quoc Cong Residence where mandarin Pham Dang Than - the father of Madam Tu Du was worshiped. In 1936, the son of Madam Kham Diep - Mr. Tham Te who was the governor of Ha Tinh province had the house sold to Mr. Nguyen Dinh Chi. After Mr. Nguyen Dinh Chi’s death in 1940, Mrs. Dao Thi Xuan Yen, his wife, looked after and continued to renovate the house until she passed away in 1997. Mrs. Dao Thi Xuan Yen was the Rector of Dong Khanh Hue High School in the 1950s and the delegate of National Assembly in 1980. She is the daughter of Mr. Dao Thai Hanh (1870-1916) who was from Sa Dec. Her father was one of the first members of AAVH (Association des Amis du vieux Hué) who had his study published on BAVH Journal and worked as the governor of Quang Tri province since 1915. Like Mr. Nguyen Dinh Chi, other owners also held important positions in the society. Therefore, many writers, poets and people from noble class visited An Hien. From 1975 to 1997, An Hien was widely known as Madam Tuan Chi garden house. In other words, it means the house of Governor Nguyen Dinh Chi's wife. It was the place where Mrs. Xuan Yen received hundreds of delegation including foreign VIP delegates on their visits to Hue.

Nowadays, An Hien is located in the area of 4.608 m2. It was constructed and planned in accordance with the traditional architecture principles of the East, Vietnam and Hue. Thanks to its proper layout, parts of the garden house are well arranged. At the center of the garden locates a three-compartment two-wing house which is carefully designed and beautifully decorated. It serves as a living room as well as a worshiping space. The entrance leading to the house is 34m long and surrounded by rows of apricot. On their very first steps to An Hien, visitors can feel the peaceful and solemn atmosphere. The house is furnished with wooden tables, chairs and horizontal lacquered boards, etc. The large shallow tank and brick screen in front of the house not only represent Feng Shui elements, but also increase aesthetic value. Thanks to country-wide precious perennials and hundreds kinds of flower planted by owners, the charming garden house is filled of blossoms all year round.
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