Vietnam

Hội An

Hội An, formerly known as Fai-Fo or Faifoo, is a city with a population of approximately 120,000 in Vietnam’s Quảng Nam Province and noted since 1999 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Old Town Hội An, the city’s historic district, is recognized as an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century, its buildings and street plan reflecting a blend of indigenous and foreign influences. Prominent in the city’s old town, is its covered “Japanese Bridge,” dating to the 16th-17th century.

(Pictures taken in 2001)

Huế

The Imperial City is a walled enclosure within the citadel of the city of Huế, the former imperial capital of Vietnam.

In June 1789 Nguyễn Ánh ascended the throne of a unified Vietnam and proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long with Hue, the ancestral seat of the Nguyen Lords as the capital. Geomancers were consulted as to the propitious location site for the new city and construction began in 1804. Thousands of workers were ordered to build the walled citadel and ringing moat, measuring some 10 kilometers long. The original earthwork was later reinforced and faced with brick and stone resulting in 2 meters thick ramparts.

The citadel was oriented to face the Huong River (Perfume River) to the southeast. This differs from Beijing’s Forbidden City in which faces true south. Rather than concentric rings, centered on the Emperor’s palace, the imperial residence itself is offset toward the southeast side of the citadel, nearer the river. A second set of tall walls and a second moat was constructed around this Imperial City, within which many edifices were added in a series of gated courtyards, gardens, pavilions and palaces. The entire complex was the seat of power until the imposition of the French protectorate in the 1880s. Thereafter it existed mostly to carry on symbolic traditions until the monarchy was ousted in 1945. At the time, the Purple Forbidden City had many buildings and hundreds of rooms. Once vacated it suffered from neglect, termite ravages, and inclement weather including a number of cyclones. Nonetheless the Imperial City was an impressive sight. Most destructive were man-made crises as evidenced in the bullet holes still visible from the military conflicts of the 20th century.

Major losses occurred in 1947 when the Viet Minh seized the Citadel in February. The French led counter-attack laid siege and the six-week ensuing battle destroyed many of the major structures. The core of the city including the Imperial Palace was burned.

The Citadel came under fire again in the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, as part of the Tet Offensive a Division-sized force of People’s Army of Vietnam and Viet Cong soldiers launched a coordinated attack on Huế seizing most of the city. During the initial phases of the Battle of Huế, due to Huế’s religious and cultural status, US troops were ordered not to bomb or shell the city, for fear of destroying the historic structures; but as casualties mounted in house-to-house fighting these restrictions were progressively lifted and the fighting caused substantial damage to the Imperial City. Viet Cong troops occupied some portions of the citadel while South Vietnamese troops occupied others; and allied warplanes targeted the anti-aircraft guns the communists has mounted on the citadel’s outer towers Out of 160 buildings only 10 major sites remain because of the battle, such as the Thái Hòa and Cần Thanh temples, Thế Miếu, and Hiển Lâm Các. The city was made a UNESCO site in 1993. The buildings that still remain are being restored and preserved.

Mỹ Sơn

Mỹ Sơn is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples in Vietnam, constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa. The temples are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva, known under various local names, the most important of which is Bhadreshvara.

Mỹ Sơn is located near the village of Duy Phú, in the administrative district of Duy Xuyên in Quảng Nam Province in Central Vietnam, 69 km southwest of Da Nang, and approximately 10 km from the historic town of Trà Kiệu. The temples are in a valley roughly two kilometres wide that is surrounded by two mountain ranges.

From the 4th to the 14th century AD, the valley at Mỹ Sơn was a site of religious ceremony for kings of the ruling dynasties of Champa, as well as a burial place for Cham royalty and national heroes. It was closely associated with the nearby Cham cities of Indrapura (Đồng Dương) and Simhapura (Trà Kiệu). At one time, the site encompassed over 70 temples as well as numerous stele bearing historically important inscriptions in Sanskrit and Cham.

Mỹ Sơn is perhaps the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina, but a large majority of its architecture was destroyed by US carpet bombing during a single week of the Vietnam War.

The Mỹ Sơn temple complex is regarded one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia and is the foremost heritage site of this nature in Vietnam. It is often compared with other historical temple complexes in Southeast Asia, such as Borobudur of Java in Indonesia, Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Bagan of Myanmar and Ayutthaya of Thailand. As of 1999, Mỹ Sơn has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. At its 23rd meeting, UNESCO accorded Mỹ Sơn this recognition pursuant to its criterion C (II), as an example of evolution and change in culture, and pursuant to its criterion C (III), as evidence of an Asian civilization which is now extinct.


Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. The name Hạ Long means “descending dragon”. Administratively, the bay belongs to Ha Long City, Cam Pha City, and is a part of Van Don District. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.

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