Hoi An developed most of its uniquely eclectic townscape between the 16th and 19th centuries. During most of this time, it was a major port open to several foreign influences. The Japanese established a community west of the Covered Bridge during the 16th century, while the Chinese founded many communities in the center and east of town in the 18th century. Japanese and Chinese influence can be seen on the town’s buildings. Later, the French left a distinct colonial stamp on the southeastern part of town. Over the years, many elements of these diverse architectural styles blended harmoniously with indigenous Vietnamese features. Hoi An was relatively untouched by the Vietnam War, and so the old world charm is still in place.
Cultural and Architectural Mix
Hoi An’s is a unique architectural amalgamation, not seen elsewhere in the country. In particular, Japanese, Chinese, and French influences are evident in Vietnamese tube houses, which feature Chinese tiled roofs, Japanese support joists, and French louvered shutters and lampposts. The town is a mosaic of cultures and yet a synthesis of all the influences.
Vietnamese tube houses have two courtyards; an outer one to separate business from private quarters, and an inner one for the household’s women. Most of them are elaborately decorated with carved wood, stucco, or ceramic designs.
The Chinese dragon is a mythical creature most closely associated with SinoVietnamese tradition, signifying continuity, power, stability, and prosperity. It is ubiquitous in Hoi An’s buildings.
French-Colonial architecture is reflected in the town’s colonnaded houses. Most are painted warm yellow, with blue or green woodwork, and have verandas, balconies, and wooden shutters.
The Tran family chapel, which dates back more than two centuries, exhibits various Chinese and Vietnamese architectural elements, but is chiefly distinguished by its Japanesestyle, triplebeam roof joists.