Hội An – an exquisite c-harm of VN

Friday - 27/01/2012 21:26

Hội An, an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port, stands out as an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion over time.

Hội An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port in the 15th to the 19th century. Buildings and streets in the town reflected the combination of influences, both indigenous and foreign, to produce the uniqueness of this heritage site.


Most of the buildings feature the traditional architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries. They are aligned along narrow lanes of traditional type. They include many religious buildings, such as pagodas, temples, meeting houses, etc., which relate to the development of a port community. The traditional lifestyle, religion, customs and cooking has been preserved and many festivals still take place annually.

Archaeological finds and excavations have shown that there was a port and trading centre of the local Sa Huỳnh people along the Thu Bồn River as early as the 2nd century BC. This continued to expand, especially during its most flourishing period f-rom the late 16th to the early 18th centuries. It was through Hội An that Christianity penetrated Việt Nam in the 17th century.

By the end of the century, the rise of other ports on the coast of Việt Nam, in particular Đà Nẵng, and silting of its harbor, led to the final eclipse of Hội An. As a result of this economic stagnation, it has preserved its early appearance in a remarkably intact state, the only town in the country to have done so. The ancient town is situated on the north bank of Thu Bồn River.

There is a street running east-west along the river's edge and three further streets parallel to the river. They are intersected at right angles by streets and alleys. Within this area there are houses (often combined with shops), religious monuments such as pagodas, temples, communal houses and family cult houses, a ferry quay and an open market.

The architecture of Hội An, which is almost entirely of wood, is a draw to visitors. It blends traditional Vietnamese designs and techniques with those f-rom other countries, above all China and Japan, whose citizens settled there to trade and built houses and community centers to their own designs.

The typical house conforms to a corridor plan, the following elements occurring in sequence: house, yard and house. The buildings are: family cult houses, dedicated to the worship of ancestors; the community houses, used for worship of ancient sages, founders of settlements, or the legendary founders of crafts.

There is a fine wooden bridge, reminiscent of Japanese examples, with a pagoda on it. It has existed f-rom at least the early 18th century, as an inscription indicates, but it has been reconstructed many times.

Up to now, the ancient town of Hội An intently preserves its original architectures, including houses, temples, pagodas, streets, ports, civil buildings, religious structures and other non-religious worshipping structures. The every day lifestyle with deep-rooted customs and cultural activities is fascinating.

Hội An was listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in December 1999. As statistics shows, in Hội An there are 1,360 relics and landscapes. These relics are divided into eleven kinds, including 1,068 ancient’s houses, 19 pagodas, 43 temples, 23 communal houses, 38 family temples, 5 assembly halls, 11 old wells, one bridge, and 44 ancient tombs. In the old quarter, there are more than 1000 relic sites.


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