With several invasions and dominations from the Chinese, then from the French and sporadic Japanese influence, Viet Nam offers a unique fusion of architecture and monuments which now constitutes the fantastic cultural heritage which is the main motivation of travel for most tourists. Tourism is a powerful tool for the protection of cultural heritage, such as colonial buildings from the French and Chinese periods that are at risk of destruction under the pressure of land speculation and a “business first” attitude.
The Complex of Hue Monuments
The Complex of Hue Monuments lies along the Perfume River in Hue City and some adjacent areas of Thua Thien Hue Province. Hue City constitutes the cultural, political and economic centre of the province, and was the old imperial city of Viet Nam under the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945. Under the reign of the 13 Nguyen Kings, architectural works of a high cultural and historic value were built: the Citadel, especially the Imperial City (including 253 constructions), 7 Royal tomb compound of 9 kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Esplanade of Nam Giao, the Ho Quyen arena and the Hon Chen Temple.
Contained in this complex are Kinh Thanh Hue (the Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (the Royal Citadel or Imperial City) and Tu Cam Thanh (the Forbidden Citadel) clustered together. The system of walls combines with sophistication both eastern and western architectural styles, which are placed in natural harmony with Ngu Binh Mount, Perfume River, Gia Vien and Boc Thanh islets. People implicitly consider these natural landscapes as a part of the complex.
Each royal tomb aimed at creating a living place for royal pleasure before becoming an eternal resting place after the king’s death. This resulted in the architecture of royal tombs in Hue being distinguished by unique characteristics; each tomb reflects its owner’s life and character.
The Complex of Hue Monuments was the first Vietnamese site to be inscribed as World Heritage in 1993. In the closing report of the above-mentioned meeting, the WHC has briefly assessed the value of Hue as follows:
“The architecture of Hue, which has been the Capital of a unified Viet Nam, built at about the beginning of the 19th century, combines the oriental philosophy with the traditions of Viet Nam. Intimately mingled with the natural environment, the beauty and special richness of the architecture and decorative art of the building are an original image of the Vietnamese monarchy at its most prosperous period”.
My Son Sanctuary
My Son Sanctuary is set in a small beautiful valley surrounded by mountains in Quang Nam Province, 40km from Hoi An City. Of the 225 Cham vestiges in Viet Nam, My Son possesses 71 monuments and 32 epitaphs, the content of which is still being studied.
The first constructions date back to the 4th century under the reign of Bhadravarman for the worship of God Shiva-Bhadresvara. At the beginning of the 7th century, King Sambhuvarman had it rebuilt and rebaptized Sambhu-Bhadresvara. Each new monarch came to My Son after his accession to the throne, for the ceremony of purification and to present offerings and erect new monuments, which explains why My Son is the only place where Cham art flourished without interruption from the 7th to the 13th century.
In December 1999, My Son was recognised as World Cultural Heritage based on two prominent criteria: as a typical example of cultural exchange, and is unique evidence of a disappeared Asian civilization
Hoi An is an old town down the Thu Bon River, on the coastal plain of Quang Nam Province, about 30 km south of Danang City.
What is so special about Hoi An, is that this little port town is in an incredible state of preservation and is regarded as one the best example of a traditional trading port in South-East Asia. It offers some of the most densely concentrated sights in Viet Nam with its old streets bordered by ancient houses and assembly halls, pagodas, temples, ancient wells and tombs. In total, more than a thousand places of interest. The architecture of Hoi An is the result of a fusion of cultures over time, from the 15th–19th centuries, characterised by a harmonious blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences. After many centuries, Hoi An is still respectful of its traditions, folk festivals, beliefs and of its sophisticated culinary art. Set in a quiet environment, Hoi An is surrounded by peaceful villages that have crafts such as carpentry, bronze making, ceramics …
Rich in traditions and exposed to the outside world early on, the Hoi An people feature a unique cultural identity, which has been well preserved from one generation to the next.
Among numerous festivities, the “Nights of Hoi An” are held on the 14th night of every lunar month.
The town was officially listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site in December 2009.
Thang Long – Hanoi
In 2010, on the eve of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO recognized the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi as world cultural heritage based on three prominent criteria: historical and cultural length; its continuity as a power centre; diversification and abundance of vestiges and artefacts. This is the archaeological site of Thang Long-Hanoi the old capital of Viet Nam, which dates back to 1010. Its 1000-year history makes it one of the oldest centres of power in the world that has been in use without interruption.
Nha Nhac, Vietnamese Court Music
Hue Court Music is the last vestige of Vietnamese Court Music. It contains the quintessence of the Vietnamese Court Music trend that has been established and developed over 1,000 years; therefore Hue Court Music is identical with Vietnamese Court Music. Listed by UNESCO among masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003.
The space of gong culture
The Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam covers the five provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong. The masters of gong culture are the ethnic groups of Ba Na, Xo Dang, M’Nong, Co Ho, Ro Mam, E De, Gia Rai… The gong performances are always closely tied to community cultural rituals and ceremonies of the ethnic groups in the Central Highlands. Many researchers have classified gongs as ceremonial musical instruments, and the gong sounds as a means to communicate with deities and gods.
In 2005 the Space of Gong culture in Central Highlands was recognized by UNESCO as an oral-transmitted masterpiece and an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Quan ho bac ninh folk songs
Quan ho singing is a folk art of a highly collective nature. Those who sing are not entertainers, but all are part of the performance, and anyone is welcome to join. Quan ho Bac Ninh folk songs were inscribed on the list of Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
Ca tru singing
Ca tru is where poetry and music meet. Ca tru singing was inscribed on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding on 1st October 2009.