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Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An Ancient Town

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.

Vieille ville de Hoi An

Hoi An constitue un exemple exceptionnellement bien préservé d'une cité qui fut un port marchand d'Asie du Sud-Est du XVe au XIXe siècle. Ses bâtiments et la disposition de ses rues reflètent les traditions autochtones aussi bien que les influences étrangères, qui ont donné naissance à ce vestige unique.

مدينة هوي - آن القديمة

تجسد مدينة هوي- آن مثالاً سليماً لمدينة شكلت مرفأ تجارياً جنوب شرق آسيا من القرن الخامس عشر ولغاية القرن التاسع عشر. وتعكس أبنيتها وتصميم شوارعها التقاليد المحلية والتأثيرات الخارجية التي أدّت الى نشوء هذا الأثر الفريد.

source: UNESCO/ERI

会安古镇

会安古镇是15世纪到19世纪东南亚的一个贸易港,是一个保存非常完好的范例。其建筑和街道样式,受到本地和国外风格的影响,土洋结合的风格共同孕育出这个独特的遗址。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Исторический город Хойан

Исторический город Хойан – это пример исключительно хорошо сохранившегося торгового порта в Юго-Восточной Азии, относящегося к периоду XV-XIX вв. Его застройка и планировка сложились под воздействием как местных традиций, так и пришлых культур, в результате чего и сформировался этот уникальный объект наследия.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Ciudad vieja de Hoi An

Hoi An constituye un ejemplo excepcional de lo que fue una ciudad portuaria mercantil del Asia Sudoriental entre los siglos XV y XIX. Sus edificios y el trazado de sus calles son un fiel reflejo de la combinación de estilos arquitectónicos, autóctonos y extranjeros, que ha dado su fisionomía singular a este sitio único en su género.

source: UNESCO/ERI

古都ホイアン
ベトナム中部、クアンナム・ダナン省中部、トゥボン川河口の都市。16世紀末、グエン朝の貿易奨励策により朱印船など外国船の入港が活発となり、17世紀には大貿易港となって日本人町・中国人町も形成された。15~19世紀における東南アジア貿易港の姿をよくとどめている。最盛期には1,000人以上の日本人居住者がいたが、現在では1593年に作られた屋根付きのカラ・ライ・ヴィエン(来遠橋、日本橋)と郊外の日本人墓地にわずかにその名残をとどめている。日本ユネスコ協会連盟は、町並み保存に協力していた。

source: NFUAJ

Oude stad Hoi An

De oude stad Hoi An is een bijzonder voorbeeld van een traditionele handelshaven in Zuidoost-Azië die volledig en uitzonderlijk goed bewaard is gebleven. Het merendeel van de gebouwen is gebouwd in de traditionele 19e en 20e-eeuwse bouwstijl. Zowel de gebouwen als het stratenplan weerspiegelen inheemse en buitenlandse invloeden. De stad kent veel religieuze gebouwen zoals pagodes, tempels en vergaderhuizen, ontstaan door toedoen van de havengemeenschap in Hoi An. De traditionele levensstijl, godsdienst en (culturele) gewoonten zijn bewaard gebleven en veel festivals vinden nog steeds jaarlijks plaats.

Source: unesco.nl

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Hoi An Ancient town is located in Viet Nam’s central Quang Nam Province, on the north bank near the mouth of the Thu Bon River. The inscribed property comprises 30 ha and it has a buffer zone of 280 ha. It  is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a small-scale trading port active the 15th to 19th centuries  which traded widely, both with the countries of Southeast and East Asia and with the rest of the world. Its decline in the later 19th century ensured that it has retained its traditional urban tissue to a remarkable degree.

The town reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences) that combined to produce this unique survival. 

The town comprises a well-preserved complex of 1,107 timber frame buildings, with brick or wooden walls, which include architectural monuments, commercial and domestic vernacular structures, notably an open market and a ferry quay, and religious buildings such as pagodas and family cult houses. The houses are tiled and the wooden components are carved with traditional motifs.  They are arranged side-by-side in tight, unbroken rows along narrow pedestrian streets. There is also the fine wooden Japanese bridge, with a pagoda on it, dating from the 18th century. The original street plan, which developed as the town became a port, remains. It comprises a grid of streets with one axis parallel to the river and the other axis of streets and alleys set at right angles to it. Typically, the buildings front the streets for convenient customer access while the backs of the buildings open to the river allowing easy loading and off-loading of goods from boats.

The surviving wooden structures and street plan are original and intact and together present a traditional townscape of the 17th and 18th centuries, the survival of which is unique in the region. The town continues to this day to be occupied and function as a trading port and centre of commerce. The living heritage reflecting the diverse communities of the indigenous inhabitants of the town, as well as foreigners, has also been preserved and continues to be passed on. Hoi An Ancient Town remains an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Far Eastern port.

Criterion (ii): Hoi An is an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international commercial port.

Criterion (v): Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port.

Integrity

Hoi An Ancient Town has retained its original form and function as an outstanding example of a well-preserved traditional South East Asian trading port and commercial centre. It remains complete as a homogenous complex of traditional wooden buildings, with the original organically developed street plan, within the town’s original river/seacoast setting.

These original cultural and historic features demonstrate the town’s outstanding universal value and are present, well-preserved, and evident within the boundary of the inscribed property, even while it continues to be occupied and function as a trading port, as well as a popular tourism destination. As a result of this economic stagnation since the 19th century, it has not suffered from development and there has not been pressure to replace the older wooden buildings with new ones in modern materials. This has ensured that the town has retained its traditional urban tissue and is preserved in a remarkably intact state.

Authenticity

Hoi An Ancient Town has retained its traditional wooden architecture and townscape in terms of plot size, materials, façade and roof line. Its original street plan, with buildings backing on to the river, with its infrastructure of quays, canals and bridges in its original setting, also remains. The historic landscape setting is also intact, consisting of a coastal environment of river, seashore, dunes and islands.

Because most of the buildings were constructed in wood it is necessary for them to be repaired at intervals, and so many buildings with basic structures from the 17th and 18th centuries were renewed in the 19th century, using traditional methods of repair. There is currently no pressure to replace older buildings with new ones in modern materials such as concrete and corrugated iron.

Protection and management requirements

Hoi An Ancient Town was classified as a National Cultural Heritage Site in 1985 and subsequently as a Special National Cultural Heritage Site under the Cultural Heritage Law of 2001 amended in 2009. The entire town is State property and is effectively protected by a number of relevant national laws and governmental decisions, such as: the Cultural Heritage Law (2001, amended 2009) and the Tourism Law (2005). The 1997 Hoi An Town Statute defines in regulations that are implemented by the Hoi An Center for Monuments Management and Preservation, the responsible agency of the People’s Committee for the management of the property. Day-to-day management involves collaboration with various stakeholders, to maintain the authenticity and integrity of the property and to monitor socio-economic activities within and adjacent to the property. The capacity of the professional staff has been and continues to be developed by many domestic and international training courses. Revenue from entrance tickets is invested directly in the management, preservation and promotion of the property. Management and preservation are further strengthened through master planning and action plans at the local level. There are also regular restoration and conservation programmes.

Multi-disciplinary research conducted by teams of international and national scholars has informed the conservation and interpretation of the town’s heritage. This research is on-going. Within the property boundary, the landscape, the townscape, the architecture and all material cultural artifacts are preserved.

A Management Plan was implemented at the time of nomination of the property, and is being kept up to date and reviewed as required by UNESCO to ensure that it remains effective.

The buffer zone is managed to protect the property from external threats. The potential adverse effects to the property caused by annual flooding and urbanization are being effectively controlled with the active participation of all authorities and the local community.

The Master Plan for the Hoi An Ancient town conservation, restoration and promotion together with the city and tourism development was approved by Prime Minister on 12 January 2012, covered the period until 2025.

Long-term management should aim to promote improvement in the living conditions for local residents. As tourism increases a strategy to manage it within the parameters of the site will be required. Strategies to deal with adverse effects of the climate are being developed and should be included in the Management Plan.

In the future, it is an aim to link the Hoi An Ancient Town with the adjacent UNESCO Cu Lao Cham Biosphere Reserve and to build Hoi An into a community integrating ecology, culture and tourism.

Long Description

Hoi An, an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port, is an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international maritime commercial centre.

The town is a special example of a traditional trading port in South-East Asia which has been completely and assiduously preserved: it is the only town in Viet Nam that has survived intact in this way. Most of the buildings are in 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 have 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 Huynh people along the Thu Bon 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 Hoi An that Christianity penetrated Vietnam in the 17th century.

By the end of the century, the rise of other ports on the coast of Vietnam, in particular Da Nang, and silting of its harbour, led to the final eclipse of Hoi 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 Bon 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 Hoi An, which is almost entirely of wood, is of considerable interest. It combines traditional Vietnamese designs and techniques with those from other countries, above all China and Japan, whose citizens settled there to trade and built houses and community centres 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;
  • the pagodas are almost all from the 19th century, although inscriptions show them to have been founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They conform to a square layout and decoration is largely confined to the elaborate roofs. In the case of the larger examples, they constituted nuclei of associated buildings with religious and secular functions. Some of the larger pagodas also served as meeting halls. These are located along the main street (Tran Phu).

There is a fine wooden bridge, reminiscent of Japanese examples, with a pagoda on it. It has existed from at least the early 18th century, as an inscription indicates, but it has been reconstructed many times. There is also a number of ancient tombs in Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese style within the buffer zone.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Archaeological finds and excavations have shown that there was a port and trading centre of the local Sa Huynh people along the Thu Bon river as early as the 2nd century BC. This continued to expand, and by the 15th century Hoi An (known in Vietnam and abroad under various names - Fayfo, Haifo, Kaifo, Faifoo, Faicfo, Hoai Pho) was already the most important port of the powerful Champa Kingdom. It continued after the Vietnamese absorption of the Champa Kingdom in the same capacity, becoming one of the most important centres of mercantile, and hence cultural, exchange in South-East Asia, attracting ships and traders from elsewhere in Asia and from Europe, especially during its most flourishing period from the late 16th century to the early 18th century. It was through Hoi An that Christianity penetrated Vietnam in the 17th century.

It retained its role as the main port of the central region throughout the 19th century, when the Nguyen dynasty kings operated a "closed trade policy." By the end of the century, the rise of other ports on the coast of Vietnam, in particular Da Nang, and silting of its harbour, led to the final eclipse of Hoi An. As a result of this economic stagnation, it has preserved its early appearance in a remarkably intact state.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation