Monday, January 1, 2007

Vietnam’s World Heritage Sites

Out of the world cultural heritage sites recognised by UNESCO, Vietnam possesses three sites (including the old imperial city of Hue, My Son Sanctuary and the ancient town of Hoi An), two natural heritage sites (Ha Long Bay and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park), a heritage site with geomorphologic, geological, cultural and historical values and two intangible heritages (Hue royal court music and the space of Tay Nguyen (The Central Highlands) gong culture).

Old Imperial Capital of Hue

Located in Central Vietnam, Hue was once the country’s capital under nine dynasties of Nguyen Lords for nearly 400 years (1558-1945). Coming to Hue, one will be lost in the ancient feudal capital where exists a system of pagodas, temples, citadels, royal tombs and magnificent architectures which are harmonized with romantic natural landscapes. Also, Hue is the cultural centre of the whole country because it still preserves the most typical traditional cultural characteristics. With its great heritage, the old imperial capital of Hue was recognised as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1993.

Ha Long Bay

As a unique heritage site, Ha Long Bay, which was once the residential place of ancient Viet people, still retains many important vestiges of the process of the founding and development history of the earth. It is a great art-work formed by nature with thousands of rock islands in different forms and shapes and beautiful and miraculous caves that help create a lively and mysterious world. Furthermore, Ha Long Bay has high bio-diversity with typical eco-systems, such as mangrove forest eco-system, coral rim eco-system, tropical forest eco-system, etc., and it is abundant in flora and fauna. Ha Long Bay was officially recognised for the first time as a world natural heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 and a world heritage site for its geomorphologic, geological, cultural and historical values for the second time in 2000.

My Son Sanctuary

Located in a valley with an area of 2 square metres in Duy Phu Commune, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province, My Son Relic Site boasts the most important sanctuary of the Champa Kingdom where solemn rites were held. With 70 shrines and towers built with the Champa architecture, it is considered one of the major sanctuary centres of Hinduism in the Southeast Asian region and the only heritage site of this kind in Vietnam. With its unique values, My Son Sanctuary was recognized as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1999.

Ancient Town of Hoi An

Located in Quang Nam Province, this ancient town that was established around the 16th-17th centuries was well-known as a busy commercial port in Southeast Asia. Its architecture still remains intact with relic complex of houses, clubs, pagodas, communal houses, temples, wells, bridges and ancestral worshiping houses, wharfs, markets, etc. Criss-crossing roads divide the Town into a chessboard-shaped model, the most popular one of the Oriental commercial trade towns in the Medium period.

Despite the ups and downs, the local daily life with its traditional customs and cultural characteristics are maintained. It can be said that Hoi An is a lively museum of architectures and urban lifestyle from the feudal regime.

In 1999, Hoi An Ancient Town was recognised by UNESCO as a world culture heritage site.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Located in Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, the Natural Reserve is classic as witnessed by its lime-stone tectonics, caves, underground rivers and a rich and diverse flora and fauna systems, many of which are listed in the Red Book of Vietnam and the world. Also, the Park houses over 300 different types of caves so it is also known as “The kingdom of caves”. Particularly, the system of Phong Nha grottos is evaluated by the British Cave Research Association as one of the most valuable such systems in the world with “The world’s longest subterranean rivers running through limestone mountains; the most beautiful and largest stone and sand beaches, the most magnificent and unusual stalagmites and stalactites”.

In 2003, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was recognized by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site.

Nha Nhac (Hue Royal Court Music)

It is the first intangible heritage of Vietnam to be recognized by UNESCO. According to UNESCO Council’s evaluation, “Vietnam’s royal court music has the meaning of ‘refined music’. It mentions Vietnam’s court music which is performed at annual festivals, celebrations and special events, such as the enthronement ceremonies, funeral ceremonies or official receiving ceremonies. Among various kinds of music developed in Vietnam, only nha nhac is considered the national music”. For this reason, Nha nhac was recognized by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2003.

Space of Tay Nguyen (the Central Highlands) Gong Culture

Covering five provinces of the Central Highlands including Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong, the space of the gong culture is a kind of art closely attached to the cultural history of the ethnic groups who live along the Truong Son Range in the Central Highlands, including the E De, Ba Na, Ma, Lac and others. Each ethnic group beats gongs in their own way to create different pieces of music on the occasions of festivals, such as welcoming the New Year and a new house celebrating ceremonies. Over the years, gongs have become a typical cultural characteristic, unique and attractive of the Central Highlands. In 2005, the Space of Gong Culture in Vietnam’s Central Highlands was officially recognized as “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.

Source: Nhandan

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