Old Dalat’s monasteries given new life

Dalat, "the city of flowers", is famous for its cool climate and natural beauty, and also the home for many old and historical monasteries.

Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration, Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration Photo: VnExpress

Most of them were built during the French colonial period after the French founded the city as a resort town to get away from the humid, hot climate in the south.

Monasteries with arched windows and balconies with large glass doors are European in design, but are also in harmony with the gentle rhythm of the city.

Some monasteries are still places of prayer, while the rest have been assigned to state units for maintenance and repair or have been changed to become tourist attractions.

New life for Dalat’s Redemptorist monastery

The most typical of these is the Redemptorist monastery, which is now being used as a biological museum managed by the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) Biological Institute.

The Tay Nguyen Biological Institute was originally Vietnam’s Redemptorist monastery but has been used for research after 1975. It is situated on Tung Lam hill, seven kilometers from the resort town of Da Lat, in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration, Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration Photo: VnExpress

The building is located in the middle of a pine forest. The monastery was built in 1952 in European religious architectural style, according to VnExpress.

At the time, the monastery was the second stone building in Vietnam after Phat Diem Church in Ninh Binh Province, 120 km south of Hanoi.

Inside, at the center, stands a cross with the Latin inscription "Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio," usually translated as "With Him is plentiful Redemption."

The institute consists of five floors and 120 rooms. The second floor serves as a biology museum. The museum has seven display rooms and six archive rooms. Each room is divided into areas for displays of stuffed mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, and so on.

The museum also has samples of 95 bird species and more than 30 amphibians and reptiles, many characteristic of the Central Highlands. There are also 245 large mushrooms varieties that grow in the pine forests of Lam Dong Province.

Some species are extinct, but their complete skeletons, intact, are on display.

Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration, Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration Photo: VnExpress

A greater adjutant, a species listed in Vietnam’s Red List of animals, spreads its wings.

The traditional charm of the museum, with its mossy staircases and stone walls, makes it an ideal backdrop for wedding photo shoots. Every day dozens of couples preen for the camera around the museum, as do tourists.

Thien Chanh, a photographer, explained: "This place is large and quiet, the architecture is like that of an old European castle, very suitable for wedding photography. There is no fee for shooting, only the VND15,000 (65 cents) entrance fee."

The restoration of Da Lat’s abandoned monastery

Residents and tourists alike have shared their disappointment over the removal of large portions of the Franciscaines Misionnaires de Marie – an abandoned monastery in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat – during the site’s renovation.

Spanning more than seven hectares, the chapel and residential quarters of Franciscaines Misionnaires de Marie sit between Tran Quang Dieu and Hung Vuong Streets in Da Lat, which is the capital of Lam Dong Province, according to Tuoi Tre News.

For years, the iconic chapel has been an inspiration for Vietnamese artists and photographers, being reimagined in countless works of art.

According to writer Nguyen Vinh Nguyen, the Benedictine complex was designed and built by French architects Alexandre Leonard and Paul Veysseyre in the late 30s and early 40s, marking the onset of Benedictine missionaries from the West making their way to Vietnam.

In 1954, these missionaries left the complex in the hands of Franciscans nuns before moving to Hue in the central region to set up the Thien An Monastery.

Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration, Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration nside the main chapel. Photo: Duc Tho / Tuoi Tre

In the following years, the nuns enlisted Vietnamese architect Pham Khanh Chu to design additional classrooms behind the existing complex.

According to Tran Ngoc Trac, former head of Lam Dong Province Arts and Literature Association, the mission was known as Viet Nu Commercial School in 1969.

In 1979, the seven-hectare complex was handed over to the government.

Over the following decades, the school’s two classroom blocks and residential building served as the province’s supplementary school, then as the Lam Vien Hotel, and eventually Tran Phu High School.

In the 1980s, another building was built between the two blocks.

The chapel and monastery were next used as a warehouse, sports hall, and residential structure.

It was eventually abandoned for several years before becoming a campus of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture.

"Restoring costs much more than rebuilding but we must protect this significant landmark."

The complex is now under restoration to become a campus of the HCM City University of Architecture.

The project, co-headed by Huy Hoang Company and the university, started by the end of February.

A representative of HCM City University of Architecture told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the university has plans to restore the site.

“We see the complex as a meaningful and valuable heritage site. Restoration costs are much more than rebuilding, but we must protect this significant landmark."

Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration, Old monasteries, Dalat, restoration Photo: Tuoi Tre

Associate Professor Le Van Thuong, rector of the university, said the chapel area and the dorm for monks will be preserved in their original state. Damaged parts such as doors and the roof will be repaired or replaced but will be consistent with the overall structure.

"We will keep the original architecture and materials of the building as much as possible. Only damaged and deteriorated places will be replaced with new materials. The paint will be the original colours," Thuong said.

When the work is completed, the chapel will become the university hall, while the dormitory area of ​​the monastery will remain as the residential function. The classroom area will become a lecture hall for students, Thuong said.

Ninh Viet Anh, teacher at HCM City University of Architecture, said that for works with historical architectural significance​, conservation must be carefully considered.

With conservation projects such as these, the city can keep its unique architectural features from the French colonial period and continue to be a popular tourist destination.

News Related


Spectacular cave with '99 mountains, 99 lakes' in northwestern province

Photo: VnExpress On the route from Sa Pa to Lai Chau City, tourists will have the opportunity to visit Tien Son Cave, home of the legendary 99 mountains and 99 lakes of Lai… Read more »

Vietnamese international student becomes billionaire in the U.S

Pham Dinh Quoc Vuong left his hometown when he was 16 years old, and studied abroad in the cold state of Minnesota in North America. He had no money, few English skills, and… Read more »

Vietnamese diva turns goddess in new music video

Singer Hà Trần will release her new MV, Mộng, on her Youtube channel on May 13. Photo courtesy of the artist HÀ NỘI A new music video by Vietnamese diva Hà Trần will… Read more »

TV programme featuring cải lương, tuồng performers launched

  People’s Artist Bạch Tuyết will perform in the TV programme, Dấu Ấn Huyền Thoại (Legends), about cải lương (reformed opera) and tuồng (classical drama)  this week on HTV7. The programme features veteran artists who were famous in the 1960s and 80s and have worked to develop… Read more »

Discover the surreal beauty of Bu Gia Map forest

Stepping into the forest, you will feel like you are in a fairy tale world. Sometimes quiet, sometimes lively, and also warm and mysterious. Tourists who come here can be easily drowned in… Read more »

Vietnam mine emergency workers perform daring rescues deep underground, under pressure

In a moment of life and death, four miners were pulled out of a collapsed pit, covered in peat.  It was 8:00 pm on January 14, 2020, when a mining pit of Quang… Read more »

Vietnam to take part in online int’l festival

This is the first time the full play “King Oedipus” is staged in Vietnam The play was recorded and sent to the festival’s organizers. This is the first time the full play “King… Read more »

'Shark Tank' judges bare sexist fangs on reality show

One of the contestants in the second episode of Season 4, “Shark Tank Vietnam” was Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, CEO of Wiibike, an e-bike startup. When Hang asked the judges if they could… Read more »

Man captured for helping foreigners enter Vietnam

Visit Vietnam Insider’s homepage for more stories Da Nang police have arrested a man for helping foreigners enter Vietnam in the guise of experts, in the context of Vietnam having closed its borders… Read more »

Bac Ninh locks down company dormitory due to Covid-19

As of noon on May 12, Bac Ninh reported 123 Covid-19 infection cases Visit Vietnam Insider’s homepage for more stories As many as 1,600 people have been put into quarantine for Covid-19 prevention… Read more »

Fans happy as rock music gets rocking again

In April, thousands of fans gathered to watch the “Buc Tuong Tro Ve” (The Wall Comes Back) live show of renowned Vietnamese rock band Buc Tuong (The Wall). The live show, marking the… Read more »

Promoting studying and following President Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, morality and style

Awarding the Certificate of Merit of the Prime Minister to the Party Committee and people of Ngu Kien commune, Vinh Tuong district (Source: daihoi13.dangcongsan.vn) Permanent Deputy Secretary of Vinh Phuc Provincial Party Committee Pham… Read more »

VnExpress Marathon Sparkling Quy Nhon postponed until July

The organizers, Binh Dinh Provincial People’s Committee and VnExpress, agreed to move the race to ensure the safety of participants and racetrack quality amid the new Covid-19 wave. Thousands of athletes prepare to… Read more »

Love gives paraplegic Vietnamese man new life

Ten years ago, a traffic accident took away Nguyen Chanh Tin’s control over the lower half of his body; however, the condition did not stop him from living his life and finding his… Read more »

TikTok video ends 11-year search for missing husband

Vietnamese social media was abuzz Tuesday over a post by Nguyen Anh Tuyet, who had previously posted a TikTok video of a homeless man who usually passed by her house in the northern… Read more »

Ho Chi Minh City high school students implement initiative to get closer to elderly

A project launched by two high school students in Ho Chi Minh City is inspiring teenagers across the city to connect with older generations.   Twelfth-graders Vo Ngoc Doan Dung and Dang Mai Chi… Read more »

Book on President Ho Chi Minh made public

The book cover (Photo courtesy of the publishing house) The book is also issued to mark the 110th year of President Ho Chi Minh’s departure to seek ways for national salvation and 80th… Read more »

5 giant trees attract tourists across Vietnam

While visitingn the Thung Nham eco-tourism area in the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh, many tourists often come to the very big banyan tree nearby. (Photo: VnExpress) The tree is said… Read more »

Contest highlights images of Vietnam and national achievements

Photo for illustration (Source: VOV) The contest is open to both professional and amateur Vietnamese composers in and outside the country as well as foreigners, who want to express their love for the… Read more »

Recipe: Sweet pumpkin balls with mung bean filling

Photo: VN Express Ingredients – Pumpkin: 300 gr – Glutinous rice flour: 250 gr – Roasted peanuts: to taste – Shredded coconut: to taste – Coconut milk: 200 ml – Palm sugar, white… Read more »

Burnout, workplace stress put damper on success in Vietnam

Chronic stress is causing physical and mental problems to many Vietnamese office workers. It turns out that burning the candle at both ends does not guarantee happiness, despite their apparent success. One of the… Read more »

Web series on queen regnant Ly Chieu Hoang launched

Lý Chiêu Hoàng (Empress)’s cast. Photo 2dep Lý Chiêu Hoàng (Empress) tells stories about Hoàng, who ruled the kingdom of Đại Việt as queen regnant from 1924 to 1925. Later, she was forced… Read more »

Over 140 posters and movies on President Ho Chi Minh displayed

Life of President Ho Chi Minh introduced (Source: vov.vn) Photos on President Ho Chi Minh in cinematography are on display at an exhibition to mark the 131st anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh’s… Read more »

Recipe: Fried quail eggs (balut) in tamarind sauce

Fried quail eggs covered in golden tamarind sauce. (Photo: VN Express) Quail eggs have long been known as “ginseng from animals” due to their high vitamin content. In oriental medicine it is said… Read more »

Vietnamese businesswoman molded by loss of mother

Having scored admirable academic and professional achievements at a young age, this Vietnamese businesswoman said the early loss of her mother shaped her character. Ngo Thuy Ngoc Tu, 33, grew up with her… Read more »

Food paradise in Phu Quoc's biggest night market

(Photo: VNE) The famous food court lies at the heart of Duong Dong town, near Nguyen Dinh Chieu street. It has over 100 food stalls on offer, opening from 3 p.m. – 11… Read more »

20 years history of Pho Cuon in Vietnam

Located in Ngu Xa area Ba Dinh district, Chinh Thang restaurant has been famous for pho cuon. It is known as the first place in the city to offer the food, also a… Read more »

Making of a monument: creator of Fansipan's stainless steel peak revisits mountain summit

(Photo courtesy of Le Hong Quang) On reuniting with his “child” on the top of Fansipan in May 2021, Le Hong Quang could not hide his emotions. Fixing his ao dai, standing in… Read more »

Thai candidate at Miss Universe 2020: Miss Vietnam "has great sense in fashion"

Thai candidate at Miss Universe 2020: Miss Vietnam “has great sense in fashion”. (Photo: Zing News) Amanda Obdam – Thai representative at Miss Universe 2020 complimented Miss Universe Vietnam Nguyen Tran Khanh Van… Read more »

Taylor Swift continues to win hearts of Vietnamese music lovers

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) album cover. Getty Images American singer Taylor Swift has been the most popular international singer in Vietnam as around 20 percent of respondents in a recent survey said they listened… Read more »

Le Loi Street emerges as new skateboarding haven for HCMC youth

As reported by Zing News, after a week of reconstruction, the part of Le Loi street that leading to Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street has attracted local people to visit, take photos and hold… Read more »

Surviving Agent Orange: The story of Tran Thi Hoan

Thirty-five-year-old Tran Thi Hoan has overcome the physical disabilities brought about by her mother’s exposure to Agent Orange and now thrives as a technician at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City where… Read more »

Vietnam wins international photography award

The photo, entiled “Thuong thuc” (Enjoy), was taken in the ancient town of Hoi An in Quang Nam province, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. “Thuong thuc” by photographer Tran… Read more »

Funding for maintenance of Long Bien Bridge to be prioritised

Long Bien Bridge, an iconic structure in the Vietnamese capital needs to have more funding for annual maintenance.(Source: hanoimoi.com.vn) VNA quoted the sayings of Le Hoang Minh, Director of the Transport Infrastructure Department… Read more »

Celebrate a brilliant summer with 8 Hearts and 8 Arrows Diamond jewels

One new design with diamonds of DOJI The finest diamonds are chosen as main materials for the 2021 Spring-Summer Jewelry Collection by designers around the world. The gemstone shines brightly under the sunlight… Read more »

Chieng Khuong border commune changes to a new-style rural area

The trans-village road in Chieng Khuong has been paved. (Photo: baosonla.org.vn) The paved road leading to Quyet Thang hamlet runs through orchards of mango and longan trees laden with fruit. As a leading… Read more »

Moc Chau aims to be recognized as national tourism site by 2025

Thanks to unique topographic and geologic conditions, Moc Chau has a rich ecosystem with cool steppe climate, ideal for resort tourism. Vast green grasslands, hills planted with tea, and forests of apricot, plum,… Read more »

Red-shanked douc - endangered animal released into Bach Ma National Park

Phan Hieu, a local resident in the central province’s Huong Thuy Town found the primate near Ta Trach Lake and quickly contacted local forest rangers to take charge, according to VnExpress. The forest… Read more »

V. League 2021 suspended after players' indirect contact with suspected Covid-19 case

A player at the Song Lam Nghe An (yellow) plays in a V. League 2021 football match. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Professional Football JSC (VPF). It was revealed Thursday that several players… Read more »

Brazilian film week to take place in Hanoi

Brazilian film week to take place in Hanoi The event will be held by the Brazilian Embassy in Vietnam. The movies include Nise: The Heart of Madness, Jules and Dolores, Trinta, Rio 2096:… Read more »

First Vietnam International Photography Festival to take place in Ninh Binh

First Vietnam International Photography Festival (Source: VNA) The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has decided to hold the first ever Vietnam International Photography Festival. The event comprises a competition to select a… Read more »

Bac Ninh organizes exhibition on Vietnam’s National Assembly

Visitors at the exhibition (Photo: bacninh.gov.vn) The exhibition displayed more than 500 photos and artifacts, which are divided into 3 main parts: the first general election to elect the National Assembly (NA) of… Read more »

More pre-1975 villas in Ho Chi Minh City added to preservation list

The old Phuong Nam villa, one of the city’s most well-known buildings of its type, is on the list of ancient villas that need preservation. (Photo: sggp.org.vn) The buildings, which have historical, cultural… Read more »

Young Vietnamese man infatuated with Origami

By choosing traditional Vietnamese paper to complete his new Origami models, Nguyen Nam Son has put Vietnam on the global map. Like other people who have a passion for Origami, which is the Japanese… Read more »

Fighting rings once popular public events in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

Before 1975, when Vietnam was reunified, Go Cong – nowadays Tien Giang Province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta – was a hub for well-attended martial arts exhibitions, which appealed to highly-skilled fighters from famed… Read more »

Empty streets of Hoi An after COVID-19 new cases detected

No one can be spotted on the pedestrian zone in Hoi An Town. The town that had been bustling with tourists during freshly-concluded break for public holidays fell silent following the municipal government’s… Read more »

Woman collects garbage in 39 out of Vietnam's 63 provinces

At the age of 33, Giang Thi Kim Cuc could have bought an apartment already if she had not spent so much money on courses in environmental protection and human resources management. The… Read more »

International community criticize China's acts of destabilizing East Sea

China’s continued deployment of ships in the East Sea has been criticized by the international community (Photo: AFP) The Philippines has sent two more diplomatic protests to China, saying that the continued swarming… Read more »

International community criticize China's new moves in East Sea

China’s continued deployment of ships in the East Sea has been criticized by the international community (Photo: AFP) The Philippines has sent two more diplomatic protests to China, saying that the continued swarming… Read more »

Vietnamese woman works to involve ethnic minority farmers in clean agriculture

After several years of trial and error, Huynh Thi Quoc Tri has successfully equipped rural farmers, including ethnic minority households in central Vietnam, with the skills they need for a transition to clean farming. Tri,… Read more »