Cau Pagoda – Bridge Pagoda (Chùa Cầu) – the symbol of Hoi An
The brainchild of Japanese tradesmen who came to make the trade in the 16th century, Cau Pagoda used to be the former gathering place of villagers who dreamed of a community in harmony and is now a must-visit destination on any Vietnam culture tours.
Now, when people say “bridge pagoda” they usually mean that the structure is composed of two parts: the bridge covered by a tiled roof and the pagoda in painted wood!
An excellent example of the Japanese architecture from the time, the Bridge Temple’s architecture is quite impressive: both parts of the structure – the bridge and the pagoda are made from elaborately carved wood with red-lacquer. At the two bridge’s ends stand two wooden sculptures of a dog and a monkey – these sacred symbols able to control the sea monster in Japanese culture. Records also say that they began constructing the bridge in the year of the dog and completed it in the year of the monkey. At the main entrance of Chua Cau, the gate is embossed with three Chinese letters; “Lai Yuan Qiao” – Lai Van Kieu (bridge of friends from afar), meaning “The Welcoming Bridge”.
Another interesting feature of the pagoda carrying today the Sino-Vietnamese style is that there is no statue of Buddha. Inside the pagoda, there is only a small temple devoted to god “Bắc Đế Trấn Vũ” – the protector god of the region who brought happiness and wealth to the locals according to the Chinese belief.
Even though Cau Pagoda lost its aspects of Japanese architecture due to the influence of natural plagues and after restorations, it is still an imprint in the trade and cultural relations and cooperation between Vietnam and Japan. Cau Pagoda is recognized as the symbol of Hoi An Old Town so that its image is printed on the Vietnamese banknote of 20,000 dong.
- Location: Spanning a stream of Thu Bon River, Cau Pagoda connects Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Tran Phu Streets.
Phuoc Lam Pagoda (Chùa Phước Lâm) – the symbol of Buddhism in Hoi An
Phuoc Lam Pagoda
The pagoda belonging to Lam Te-Chuc Thanh Buddhist sect was built at the end of the 17th century to worship Buddha and restored twice – in 1822 and 1893.
This unique pagoda was actually built in ancient Asian architectural style typical for ancient pagodas in Southern Vietnam with 3 chambers, 2 lean-tos, 2 bell towers, 1 yard, 1 altar, and 3 gates. The middle of the temple serves as a place where many precious holy relics and statues are kept. Here in the Dai Duong palace, you can find prayer-books carved on the wood.
Phuoc Lam Pagoda where many famous Vietnamese Buddhist monks such as the Bonze superiors Thich Giac Nhien and Thich Tinh Khiet and the Bonze superior I and II of Vietnam Buddhism were trained before the 1975 war is religious contributing to Buddha architectural and propagating Buddha in Hoi An.
The symbol of Buddhism in Hoi An recognized as National Cultural Heritage Site by Vietnam Ministry of Culture and Information is a place to visit to know more about Vietnam’s culture.
- Location: No 2 Commune, Cam Ha ward, Hoi An commune, Quang Nam province.
Hai Tang Pagoda (Chùa Hải Tạng)
Hai Tang Pagoda
Last but definitely not least is Hai Tang Pagoda – a religious structure worship Buddha combined with divine worship. Initially built in 1758 (the 19th year Canh Hung) and then moved to its current position and rebuilt in 1848 (the year of Tu Duc) after a storm, Hai Tang Pagoda is where fishermen on Cham Island and merchants visit Buddhist ritual practice to pray for advantages in the way of doing business and trade.
Tourists coming to Hai Tang Pagoda on their Quang Nam tours should not miss a chance to admire the incredible views of a little valley of rice fields – which can only be seen on Cu Lao Cham.
- Location: Cu Lao Cham Island, Hoi An, Quang Nam
Cau Pagoda, Phuoc Lam Pagoda, and Hai Tang Pagoda are the three most fascinating temples in Quang Nam. Don’t miss them on your culture tour in Vietnam.