Each time the history of Huế, Vietnam is mentioned, one may recall some iconic and famous tourist attractions such as the vast Huế Citadel, Thiên Mụ Pagoda, the Hương River or the chain of royal tombs and mausoleums sleeping quietly amid the serene forests. The good news is, Huế has much more to offer. If your time in this romantic city is not strictly limited, why not set aside some time for a look further to another aspect of Huế. These two ancient villages would be introduced today with a view to spanning your expectation of a typical Huế through a totally new prism.
Let’s have a look at Thuỷ Biều first
The name Thuỷ Biều can be understood as following, Thuỷ is Water in Sino-Vietnamese, while Biều is how Huế natives refer to a gourd. Thủy Biều, altogether, literally bears the meaning of a “Water Gourd”. This comes from the panoramic image captured from above of the poetic Hương River shaping the village like a huge bottle-gourd, quietly protecting the alluvial soil of Thuỷ Biều.
Biking tour in Thuỷ Biều (Source: Google)
Enclosing the village of Thuỷ Biều is a belt of natural landscapes and iconic landmarks of the ancient capital, which can be recalled as Vọng Cảnh Hill and the Tomb of King Tự Đức. Towards the other bank of the river is the solemn site of Hòn Chén Palace, the Temples of Bureaucracy and Military, as well as the holy dream-like picture of Thiên Mụ Pagoda.
Short stop at a long-built gate (Source: Google)
Not only known as a site where you can take pictures of many famous landmarks of Huế from afar, this ancient village is known to successfully preserve the exceptional architectural constructions left from the Nguyễn Dynasty, and the two arenas of Tiger and Elephant are some of which. Only a short stopover would leave you amazed at how bold and mighty the venues got to be back to their heyday.
A king post house (Source: Google)
What else that makes the ancient village of Thuỷ Biều breathtaking as always? The answer would be the chain of king post houses still greatly remained up to now. These buildings were built in the forms of Chinese pictograph with the usage of various pillars, frame-works and went without partitions. Most of the residential buildings were created in the hands famous artisans. Last but not least, the most phenomenal feature of Thuỷ Biều Ancient Village is their freshest Thanh Trà Grapefruit – used as a tribute to the King in the past. If you have not been aware of these sweet things ever before, make sure to set aside some time to delight in them.
Entrance gate to an ancient residential house (Source: Google)
Thanh Trà Grapefruits (Source: Google)
Now move further to Phước Tích Village
Coming up next is a quiet land born right next to the mild Ô Lâu River, only one kilometer away from AH 1 (Asian Highway 1). Phước Tích was first introduced as a traditional pottery maker. Phước Tích Ancient Village is a part of Phước Phú Town, Phong Hoà Commune, Hương Điền District, Thừa Thiên Huế Province. For your information, Phước Tích is the second ancient village to be recognized as a National Relic, after Đường Lâm Ancient Village in Hanoi’s suburbs .
Visiting Phước Tích (Source: Google)
Phước Tích tells its history of Huế, Vietnam with a big collection of precious artifacts and historical sites. These can be counted as a set of 27 ancient houses out of 117, 10 of which were recorded as temples of forefathers.
An ancient temple (Source: Google)
The very first name given to the village is not Phước Tích as used today, but Phúc Giang, which was meant a prosperous river. Emperor Gia Long, the founder of the Nguyễn Dynasty, granted the village a brand new term named as Phước Tích, which can be literally translated as a locality where dwellers are able to pass their luck and prosperity down to younger generations.
A brick-made path (Source: Google)
As previously disclosed, Phước Tích was first born as a pottery-making village whose reputation spread nationwide. Phước Tích pottery products were greatly famed for their durability, smooth finish, as well as such elegant details carved and cast. All of them were produced manually and heated in a dorm-like brick burner lit up by firewood.
An old pottery burner (Source: Google)
In terms of architecture, the residential houses at Phước Tích Village are not fenced by the usual brick walls, but rows of evergreen tea trees. Today, most Phước Tích native dwellers pursuit their career as teachers and doctors.
Now, with our disclosure of two ancient villages above, your initial thought of a little Huế would absolutely be changed. After two days of visiting the main part of the city, why not explore the history of Huế, Vietnam through a new lens offered above?