Relics within a relic in Vung Tau

In the historical White Palace (Bach Dinh) in Vung Tau Town, southern Vietnam are kept three century-old artifacts from a shipwreck off Con Dao Island.

Built in 1898 by the French, White Palace served as a holiday retreat for French Indochina colonial administrators. Its original name was Villa Blanche for Blanche Richel Doumer, daughter of Paul Doumer, governor-general of French Indochina from 1897 to 1902. Doumer is known for building French-style buildings in Hanoi.Due to its striking white exterior, the villa was dubbed ‘Bach Dinh’ or ‘White Palace’ by locals. Situated on a hill, it has three floors and is 420 sq.m in size and 19 meters tall. Its bricks, white paint and red-tiled roof scream 19th century European architecture.

Built in 1898 by the French, White Palace served as a holiday retreat for French Indochina colonial administrators. Its original name was Villa Blanche for Blanche Richel Doumer, daughter of Paul Doumer, governor-general of French Indochina from 1897 to 1902. Doumer is known for building French-style buildings in Hanoi.

Due to its striking white exterior, the villa was dubbed ‘Bach Dinh’ or ‘White Palace’ by locals. Situated on a hill, it has three floors and is 420 sq.m in size and 19 meters tall. Its bricks, white paint and red-tiled roof evoke 19th century European architecture.

The first level has an opulent stateroom and exhibition space for artifacts retrieved from the wreck of the Lorcha off Hon Cau Island in Con Dao in 1990.

The first level has an opulent stateroom and exhibition space for artifacts retrieved from the wreck of the Lorcha off Hon Cau Island in Con Dao, 80 km from Vung Tau's center, in 1990.

Over two years the government salvaged 68,000 artifacts including ceramics, china, bronze pieces, guns, and copper coins made by the end of the 17th century and early 18th century during the Qing Dynasty era. The discoveries were curated and distributed to various national museums, and some can be found at White Palace.Some 28,000 items were sold in the international market for $6.7 million.

Over two years the Vung Tau government salvaged 68,000 artifacts including ceramics, china, bronze pieces, guns, and copper coins made by the end of the 17th century and early 18th century during the Qing Dynasty era. The discoveries were curated and distributed to various national museums, and some can be found at White Palace.

Some 28,000 items were sold in the international market for $6.7 million.

Fine china, blue-and-white ceramic crockery, jars, vases, pen holders, bowls, and plates made in Jingdezhen, Shantou and Dua Hoa during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (reigning 1661-1722). Three centuries later they pieces remain intact and intricate.

Fine china, blue-and-white ceramic crockery, jars, vases, pen holders, bowls, and plates made in Jingdezhen, Shantou and Dua Hoa during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (ruling 1661-1722). Three centuries later the pieces remain intact and intricate.

The ceramic patterns borrow imagery from traditional Chinese paintings like the yellow mai flower, orchid, chrysanthemum, bamboo flower, scenes from folklore and legends like archers on horseback.

The ceramic patterns borrow imagery from traditional Chinese paintings like the yellow mai flower, orchid, chrysanthemum, bamboo flower, scenes from folklore and legends like archers on horseback.

Artifacts made from stone found in the sunken ship are kept in a display case at White Palace. An intricately carved stone statue of Cundi stands out among them.

Artifacts made from stone found in the sunken ship are kept in a display case at White Palace. An intricately carved stone statue of Cundi stands out among them.

300-year-old glazed ceramic figures do not show any signs of age.

300-year-old glazed ceramic figures do not show any signs of age.

But a pot dated back to the time of Emperor Kangxi that is on display is battered and even has a few holes.

But a pot dated back to the time of Emperor Kangxi that is on display is battered and even has a few holes.

Coins, ink holders, stamps made of stone, and a bronze mirror that belonged to sailors on board the vessel were also salvaged.

Coins, ink holders, stamps made of stone, and a bronze mirror that belonged to sailors on board the vessel were also salvaged.

A stone mill found in pristine condition offers a glimpse into the life of sailors on the ship.

A stone mill found in pristine condition offers a glimpse into the life of sailors on the ship.

Broken earthenware objects and other artifacts in fragile condition are also on display.  In 1992 White Palace was recognized as a national relic.Entry ticket is VND15,000 ($0.64) per person.

Broken earthenware objects and other artifacts in fragile condition are also on display. In 1992 White Palace was recognized as a national relic. Entrance ticket is VND15,000 ($0.64) per person.