Hoi An ancient town – a South-East Asian trading port in the 15th to the 19th century

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.

177501 Hoi An ancient town - a South-East Asian trading port in the 15th to the 19th century

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 from 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.

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