THE ANCIENT CITY OF HOI AN

Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site.

Unlike the dynamic Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An Old Town seems to aside from the busy development of the country, remaining its ancient beauty from its roads to its architectural works. About 30 km south of Da Nang city, Hoi An old town is really a great place to really get up close and personal with the real Vietnam, her people and past as well. 

Here is also a rare place where you can find an elegant blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese architecture. 

Hoi An has been through a few centuries of history but still remains as in the very first days of its being born. Its two main historical landmarks are the occupying of the Japanese & Chinese, and the Western (Dutch and Spanish) during the 16th and 17th centuries. 

During the period of the China trade, the town was called Hai Pho (Sea Town) in Vietnamese. Originally Hai Pho was a divided town, because across the “Japanese Bridge”, it used to be the Japanese settlement (16th-17th century). Then it was known to the French and Spanish as Faifo, a major international port city. 

According to the statistics, Hoi An ancient town remains 1360 vestiges including 1068 ancient houses, 11 ancient wells, 38 churches, 19 temples, 43 shrines, 23 families, 44 special graves and a bridge. Despite space and time, Hoi An ancient town still retains an ancient beauty. It is a place where one can find vestiges being almost intact, making Hoi An a unique place in the modern chronicle.

Hoi An Ancient Town is a historical vestige, a valuable cultural heritage of the rare and precious type in the world recognized by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and classified as a national monument (1985), highly appreciated by the public in the country and  the world.

In 1985, the National Science Conference and in 1990, the International Conference on the Ancient City of Hoi An was held in Hoi An, Da Nang with the participation of many scientists in and out thecountry. In 1995, Hoi An Cultural and Architecture Heritage Foundation was established to mobilize individuals and organizations to assist in the preservation and restoration of the monument of Hoi An ancient town. Specifically, on December 1, 1999, UNESCO recognized Hoi An Ancient Town as the World Cultural Heritage, confirming the location and presence of the Hoi An Cultural Heritage in the Cultural Heritage Tract.

Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s seaports located on the “Silk Road on the Sea” and developed in the Asian trading system. Established in the late 16th century, this was once the largest trade center of Cochinchina and the whole of Dai Viet, was one of the most crowded trade ports of Southeast Asia in the 16th, 17th,18th century with the participation of traders from Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, China, Japan, India, Netherlands, England, France, Spain, Portugal

Owing to its favorable geographic location, goods from many countries around the world came to Hoi An trading port. Then it is from this trade, domestic goods with famous products such as silk, ceramics, agarwood, Salanganes’ Nests… are shipped to many countries transported to East Asia, South Asia, East South Asia, and some Western countries. Foreign goods also from Hoi An are spread all over the country. Hoi An has become the gateway of Cochinchina to the outside world.

Hoi An is famous for the beauty of traditional architecture, the harmony of houses, walls and roads. Along with the ups and downs of history, Hoi An ancient town still retains the ancient features of ancient style in each tile roof, brick, tree.. as the idyllic character, the essence of the local people.

Being the only traditional Southeast Asian seaport in Vietnam, Hoi An retains almost over thousands of architectural monuments such as streets, houses, conventions, communal houses, pagodas, shrines, churches, ancient wells, ancient tombs…

The architecture has both traditional artistic nuances of Vietnam, and show the cultural integration with Western and Western countries. Over the centuries, customs, rituals, cultural activities, beliefs, as well as traditional dishes are preserved and preserved along with generations of the old people. Hoi An also has a natural environment, peaceful with small villages, lovely crafts, such as carpentry, pottery…

Perhaps, the most beautiful time in Hoi An is at night. This small town becomes more romantic and deeper, carrying a nostalgic feeling, which is hard to describe. The lantern recovery initiative in the fall of 1998 brought unexpected results. In the evening, after about twenty hours, people in the old town returned to life  three hundred years ago.

They turned off their neon lights, and then the dark is illuminated by the lanterns instead. Chinese-style green lanterns are hung on the doors, white lanterns are hung on the porch. However, they do not feel uncomfortable at all. It seems that people are going against the flow of time to live with the things that have ever existed for a thousand years.

Especially, on the night of the festivals, people usually play the game of tumbling, dragging, …and many other folk games. Tourists, as well as residents of the old town, participate in very enthusiastically, creating a bustling scene and full of vitality for the city.

Rice bowls, drums, … on the boats in the late night.

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