|Antique decoration: Some houses are adorned with ancient decorative plates. - VNS Photo Bạch Liên |
by Bạch Liên
Ninh Bình province is well-known for Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its boat cave tours. Tam Cốc-Bích Động is a popular tourist destination known for its three caves and its pagoda.
But the province has much more to offer.
Not many tourists know that this province is also very famous for its ancient Vietnamese village, where visitors can see 22 ancient houses.
The village is considered a miniature of many northern villages in the country.
The ancient Vietnamese village is nestled on the bank of the Ngô Đồng River, only a few footsteps from the wharf of Tam Cốc site. Better known as Cố Viên Lầu, Tam Cốc is a private museum featuring ancient houses with unique architectural and cultural features.
Nguyễn Minh Thoa is the founder of the museum. A well-known antique collector in Ninh Bình, he traveled throughout the province and through other northern Việt Nam provinces for years, looking for and buying antique houses that date back to the 18th-20th centuries.
Thoa wanted to buy these historic houses since the early 2000s. So he told all his friends, who are also antique collectors from different regions of Việt Nam, that he wanted to buy ancient houses of beautiful design in the northern region. He finally succeeded in buying 22 houses, some priced as high as US$10,000. But some of the houses were given to him for free.
Then, he dismantled the houses, moved all of the materials to Hoa Lư District, and rebuilt them.
Covering an area of 20,000 sq.m in the Tam Cốc – Bích Động tourism area, the village is now home to 22 antique wooden homes, each bearing the traditional architectural traits of its home village or district, and each built of precious wood.
For example, the Văn Hải house was collected from the Hậu Lộc district of Thanh Hóa province. It was restored from a home built in 1885 under the reign of King Đồng Khánh – the 9th king of the Nguyễn Dynasty, who reigned from 1885 to 1889.
The house’s curved beams are shaped like the neck of a goose and chiseled with intricate carvings.
The Ý Yên ancient house, originally built in 1883, was collected from Ý Yên district of Nam Định province. Inside the house, a collection of ancient objects dating from the 12th century Lý dynasty - including a plate and bowl - is displayed.
In the Thọ Xuân ancient house, there is a collection of more than 100 ornamental jars dating from Gia Long period (1802). It is said to be the biggest such collection in Việt Nam. This 200 year old house used to be the house of a shaman in Thanh Hóa province.
The roof of the Tho Xuân house was rebuilt from a Thanh Hoa Province/Thọ Xuân District home more than 200 years old. The house is made of fish fin tiles, and its four corners are shaped like curved knives. Inside the house are more than 70 dragon-shaped jars.
Inside these 22 old houses, more than 40,000 ancient objects dating back hundreds - and thousands - of years are on display. The artifacts include coins, pictures, jars, jewelry, statues, and farm tools used in the Red River Delta.
In the village, there is a corner representing a typical little Vietnamese village of long ago. Two little houses are being built of soil, straw, and bamboo. They are copied from models of old houses of poor Vietnamese farmers in the 19th century.
In the yard, tourists see stacks of straw, water jars, and stone mortars. The house is surrounded by vegetables, garden, and bamboo hedges.
Visitors will miss old times when they see this village.
“Seeing the high stack of straw in the yard, I suddenly missed the house of my grandmother very much. I spent beautiful moments of my childhood there. I used to play hide-and-seek with my sister around a stack of straw when we were little, ” said visitor Vũ Thanh Nga.
The ancient Thanh Liêm temple, from Thanh Liêm district of Hà Nam province, is now located at the heart of the village which features lovely gardens and nice views of the surrounding mountains.
The village has free WiFi and offers accommodation to tourists who want to stay overnight. Visitors can can also participate in local folk games and enjoy regional delicacies. -- VNS
|Doors to the past: Some doors are decorated with nacre paintings. - VNS Photo Bạch Liên|
|Old village flavor: Thatched-roof houses of 19th century poor farming families. - VNS Photo Bạch Liên |
|Mini: The village is a ’miniature’ of many northern villages in the country. - Photo www.langvietco.com|