Northern village preserves rich architectural heritage

Published: 20/05/2011 05:00

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Located by the Nhue River, 15km west of Ha Noi, the ancient village of Cu Da is
famous for its soya sauce and glass noodles.


Old and new: The
village is not only home to traditional houses but also modern colonial French
villas.

The
suburban village has been attracting an increasing number of tourists in recent
years, not only for its local specialities, but its traditional houses which
reflect both the architectural and cultural values of the northern rural region.


Home to
more than 100 wooden houses, the village is a popular tourist attraction for
people in search of a glimpse of the past.


Most of
the tiled houses, which are hundreds of years old, were built from go xoan (bead
tree or Chinaberry tree).


The
houses form a complex in the typical traditional architectural style of the Hong
(Red) River Delta region.


A main
house includes an ancestral altar, a set of wooden couches and a tea table. In
the wings of the house are bedrooms for the owner and his eldest son. The other
space is used for the women’s living quarters.


The
outbuildings are smaller than the main house and used as kitchens and dining
rooms, and for storage.


The
traditional house of Trinh The Sung in Dong Nhan Cat Hamlet is considered the
most beautiful and untouched of its kind.


Built in
1864, the house consists of 35 wooden pillars, decorated in intricate carvings.


Changing times: The
village’s entrance features a clock.

“The
house has maintained its original structure since I started living here after
marrying my late husband 68 years ago,” said Sung’s mother, Dinh Thi Khuyen, 85.


With a
similar architectural style, the 360sq.m house of Dinh Van Du in the same hamlet
welcomes many visitors. According to the owner, six generations of his family
have lived in the 200-year-old house.


The
typical architecture of the northern rural area can also be found in the
archways leading into the village’s 12 hamlets.

“Cu Da
may be Ha Noi’s only suburban village to retain the soul of the northern
countryside. I often visit the village, which is the birthplace of my
grandmother, to take in its rural atmosphere,” said 74-year-old Hanoian Tran
Ngoc Toan.


The
simple beauty of Cu Da together with its traditional houses have been used as
the setting for a number of Vietnamese movies and TV series, including the
famous Bao Gio Cho Den Thang Muoi (When the Tenth Month Comes), and the recent
Leu Chong (Going to Royal Exam).


Although
founded 800 years ago, the village really flourished from 1890 to 1945.


With the
advantage of a riverside location, the village was home to successful
businessmen, who spared no expense on their living conditions.


In 1929,
Cu Da became the first village in the country to have electricity.


Steeped in tradition:
Traditional houses reflect the typical architectural style of the Hong (Red)
River Delta region.
(Photos: VNS)

The
evidence of that glorious period also includes a flag tower that was built in
the same year, the ornate archway leading into the village featuring a large
clock – a sign of the affluent times, and the brick roads leading to every
corner of the village.


The
village is not only home to traditional houses, but also modern colonial French
villas, more than 20 of which can be found across the village.


Among
the French villas, the estate of Trinh Thi Hong in Ba Gang Hamlet is considered
the most beautiful. The two-storey house still retains almost all of its
original features, including flowery motifs, a wrought iron balcony, tiled
floors and a wooden staircase that combine to make an intriguing mix of French
and Vietnamese styles.


However,
according to Vu Van Bang, head of the Cu Khe District’s Cultural Division, the
number of traditional houses is decreasing as the passage of time takes its
toll. Many are now nothing more than shells while others have sustained serious
damage.


Urbanisation has also had a negative effect on the village in recent years. In
some people’s opinion, the traditional house is no longer fit to house a
modern-day family. “That’s why many families in the village demolish their old
houses to make way for new, multi-storey concrete houses. It is of grave concern
to local authorities as well as the people who want to preserve traditional
cultural value,” Bang said.


Fortunately, the problem has attracted the attention of local media, helping
raise awareness among villagers of the importance of preserving their houses.


Dinh Van
Truong, the owner of a seriously damaged French villa, said he refused to
replace his rickety house with a new building. “My sons and I will repair the
house, and hopefully, many generations of our family will live to enjoy it.”


VietNamNet/Viet
Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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