For more than a century being the capital of Vietnam under the feudal dynasties, Hue City was formed with villages that owned unique cultural identities. Each age-old village, each ancient house in Hue has its own story and exclusive traits, which cannot be seen in any other landscapes along Vietnam. Of all the villages in Hue City, Phuoc Tich Ancient Village is a rendezvous for tourists who want to know more about the ancient architecture of this citadel.
- Location: Phuoc Tich Village, Phuoc Phu, Phong Hoa Commune, Phong Dien District, Thua Thien – Hue Province
Opening hours: 24/24 daily
Entrance fee: no charge
Suitable for: travelling in group, family, going solo
I. History of Phuoc Tich Ancient Village
According to the historical documents, the formation of Phuoc Tich Ancient Village occured in the 15th century, under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong, which was at the same time as the expansion of the territory to the south of Le Dynasty. Also in the documents, after winning victory over the Chiem Thanh enemy, the first ancestor of Hoang family in this village named Hoang Minh Hung came across this landscape. He had a fortune told and knew that it was a fruitful land, then he gathered people to found the village.
At first, the village was called Phuc Giang, which meant a riverside land with wealth and happiness. In a book written by Le Quy Don, a famous scholar in Le Dynasty, Phuc Giang Village was on the bank of O Lau River and located in Huong Tra Province. Then, in the Tay Son Dynasty, Phuc Giang was changed into Hoang Giang to memorize the family who formed the village. It was not until the reign of King Gia Long of the Nguyen Dynasty that the village was named Phuoc Tich. Phuoc means “blessing”, while “Tich” means “gathering”; the name Phuoc Tich includes the wish of the ancestor to bless the future generation with the best things.
Over the last 500 years, the residents of Phuoc Tich Village have continued the tradition to build a beautiful and peaceful land and reserve the ancient cultural features. Coming to Phuoc Tich Ancient Village, it is not difficult to see the Eastern philosophy in the architecture of ancient houses, the custom of families as well as the system of antique temples, pagodas and shrines.
II. Highlights of Phuoc Tich Ancient Village
O Lau River is the natural border of Thua Thien – Hue and Quang Tri Province. The horseshoe-shape river curves around the village, forming a thriving village with typical features of North Central Vietnam. Although Phuoc Tich Village has been recognized as a national monument for more than a decade, the village is not often listed on the itinerary of tourists coming to Hue. Thus, a visit to Phuoc Tich Ancient Village is like an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city to come to a serene life in the countryside.
Nowadays, Phuoc Tich Ancient Village still preserves tangible heritages which are both grandiose and invaluable. Of the 117 houses in this village, there are 27 ancient houses and 10 ancient houses of worship. Anh in particular, 12 girder houses there conserve special architecture values.
It is not difficult to realize that girder house (or “nha ruong” in Vietnamese) is quite popular in Phuoc Tich Ancient Village. The girder-house style was the typical architecture of houses in Hue under Nguyen Dynasty. The housing style appeared in the 17th century, with the system of wooden pillars and beams. The dowels connecting the house frame are also made of wood, which allows easy fitting and dismantling.
The wood used in ancient houses of Phuoc Tich Ancient Village is jackfruit wood. This kind of timber is not only resistant to termite and wood-borer but it also remains undamaged in spite of the destruction of time.
In front of each house is a small yard and the surrounding is a garden. There is no wall between the two gardens but a green hedge with flowers or vines. That kind of hedge is also an exclusive trait which can only be found in houses in North Central Vietnam. Along the roads in Phuoc Tich Village and the paths leading to every house, you can see many other green hedges, which contribute to the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere of the village.
Pottery used to be a traditional handicraft in Phuoc Tich Ancient Village. Nowadays, only a few families still live on making pottery, and the craft only exists in the memories of the elders in Phuoc Tich Village. However, the vestige of pottery still remains. Everywhere you go in Phuoc Tich, you can easily catch the sight of houses with roofs, pillars, walls and perrons decorated in small pieces of porcelain. The ceramic pieces in many shapes and sizes were disposed meticulously in certain forms, depending on the purpose of the owners. Only in Hue can you admire a large amount of constructions using ceramic products for decoration.
III. What to Do in Phuoc Tich Ancient Village?
1. Visiting Ancient Houses
In Phuoc Tich Ancient Village, there are 27 ancient houses in total, and most houses are in girder style including three compartments and two lean-tos. The ages of these houses range from 100 to 200 years, but the typical structure and architecture are still preserved. The patterns of stylized dragons, clouds and the sun are used in decoration of these houses, creating a solemn but harmonious feeling.
Not an imposing construction that you often see in other historical places, the ancient house in Phuoc Tich Village crystallizes the cultural values that have existed for more than five centuries and reminds the descendants about the tradition of their ancestors.
2. Coming to Museum of Pottery
In Phuoc Tich Ancient Village, there is a private museum of Mr. Le Trong Dien and his family, where tourists can see a huge collection of ancient pottery products. Many ceramic items in the collection were made hundreds years ago, which are extremely precious with the owner. The pottery museum will tell visitors a story about the procedure of making pottery products, the ups and downs in the history of Phuoc Tich Village and the value contained in each item.
The pottery collection though comprises familiar products in daily life such as bowls, pot and cups, jars and vases in simple shapes and decoration, it preserves the spirit of a craft village that fell into oblivion.
3. Worshiping at Hien Linh Shrine
There are many ancient temples and shrines in Phuoc Tich Ancient Village but Hien Linh Shrine is the oldest one. Hien Linh Shrine is also known as Cay Thi Shrine because the shrine lies under the shadow of a more-than-500-year-old gold apple (a kind of persimmon). Hien Linh Shrine is the combination of Champa and Vietnamese culture, which is used to worship Mother Ponagar, a goddess in the Cham belief.
The small mossy shrine nestles in a corner of Phuoc Tich Ancient Village. The entrance gate of the shrine is only 1.3 meters so that everyone entering the shrine has to lower their heads to show their respect to the goddess.
IV. How to Get to Phuoc Tich Ancient Village?
Phuoc Tich Ancient Village is about 40 kilometers to the north of Hue City. To get to this village, you can hire a car or motorbike, follow Highway 1A to the north. It takes you about 45 minutes to go by car and 1 hour to go by motorbike to reach Phuoc Tich Ancient Village.
Along the way to Phuoc Tich Village, instead of towering buildings and crowded streets, you can see peaceful villages with immense fields and red-tiled houses, which is a common scene in Vietnamese countryside.
V. Extra Tips
- It is the best idea to go to Phuoc Tich Ancient Village by car. You will not have to worry about the way to the village because the car driver will take you there.
- You should go to Phuoc Tich Village on a sunny day. The dry season in Hue is from March to August, which is quite favorable for tourists to discover the city as well as the surrounding landscapes.
- In the flood season from October to December, the persistent rains cause the rise of the water in O Lau River and even floods, so tourism activities in Phuoc Tich are not encouraged at that time.
- Don’t hesitate to ask the villagers in case you do not know where to start in Phuoc Tich Ancient Village. The friendly residents will warmly help you.
Through the flow of time, Phuoc Tich Ancient Village still reserves traditional values of a suburban area in Hue. The gentle O Lau River has nourished the life of the villagers and embraced a beautiful landscape on the side of Hue City. The harmonious combination between the residents with their unique culture and nature in Phuoc Tich Ancient Village will make this land long-lasting and full of happiness as its name.