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On a nondescript street in Đà Lạt there hides an alternate dimension. When you pass through the entrance of this weird place, your world shifts into visions of a surreal and warped kind of reality. The materials are familiar—cement, rebar and paint—but the construction is a maze of hallucinations and oddities. Welcome to the Hằng Nga Guesthouse, also known as Crazy House.
Opened to the public in 1990, the Hằng Nga Guesthouse began as a pet project of architect Đặng Việt Nga, daughter of ranking communist leader Trường Chinh. Đặng Việt Nga studied at the University of Architecture in Moscow, later receiving a PhD. She began her professional life in Hà Nội, but eventually moved to Đà Lạt. It was here that she built her now-famous guesthouse, modeling it after the natural beauty she saw all around her in the rolling green mountains. The main structure of Crazy House is based on a banyan tree.
From an architectural standpoint, the guesthouse has been described as an expressionist work. Many people see influences from Salvador Dali and Walt Disney, but Đặng Việt Nga claims she was inspired by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The construction is as fluid and nonlinear as you could ever imagine when using cement. Despite being entirely crafted by human hands, the whole structure somehow feels natural. It’s only when you encounter sections of the guesthouse still under construction that you see the real skeleton of this disorienting creation.
Another interesting note is that Đặng Việt Nga didn’t use blueprints for this guesthouse. Instead, she made paintings of her ideas. Then she worked with local craftsmen to build her artistic conceptions.
Most tourists come to wander through the maze of strange paths for an hour or two, but this landmark actually has rooms for people to stay in as well. They’re themed around both animals and countries. For example, there’s an ant room which represents the industriousness of Vietnamese people. There’s also an eagle room that stands for the size and strength of America. If you’re not worried about having nightmares from sleeping in a room with a red-eyed tiger glaring at you, then check here to make reservations.
A million words wouldn’t be able to do this weird place justice. It’s a visual experience, so let’s have a look at some pictures that show exactly how innovative and interesting the Hằng Nga Guesthouse really is.