Assembly Hall of The Chaozhou Chinese Congregation in Hoi An

The Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, built in 1845, stands as one of the most remarkable historical attractions in Hoi An. Its cultural allure is evident in the intricate carvings adorning its doors, walls, and altars, captivating visitors from their very first glimpse.

Location: 157 Nguyen Duy Hieu Street, Hoi An Town
Opening hours: All day

1. History of the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation

Chaozhou (Trieu Chau in Vietnamese) refers to a city in the eastern part of Guangdong Province in China, with Fujian Province to the east. You may wonder, what were people from such a distant area doing in Vietnam? Why did they build an assembly hall in Hoi An?

Assembly Hall of The Chaozhou Chinese Congregation in Hoi An
Assembly Hall of The Chaozhou Chinese Congregation in Hoi An

The history of the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation is indeed intertwined with significant historical events and migrations. While there may be discrepancies regarding its exact construction date, the establishment of the hall reflects the migration of individuals from the Chaozhou region of China to Hoi An during periods of political upheaval.

During the transition from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty in China, many individuals, including former Ming generals seeking refuge, migrated southward to escape political persecution. Some of these migrants settled in Hoi An, bringing with them their skills in trade and commerce.

These settlers played a crucial role in transforming Hoi An into a bustling port town, contributing to its economic prosperity and cultural diversity. The construction of assembly halls, such as the one built by the Chaozhou community, served as focal points for social, religious, and commercial activities.

Over time, these halls evolved, with contributions from the Chaozhou community, resulting in the grand structures that stand today. Beyond serving as gathering places, these halls also served as temples for worship, reflecting the significance of maritime trade and the importance of invoking blessings for favorable weather and safe voyages.

The story of the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of migrant communities and their enduring contributions to the cultural tapestry of Hoi An.

2. Highlights of the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation

History of the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation
History of the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation

The Assembly Hall in Hoi An, often initially mistaken by tourists as an ordinary pagoda, reveals its true magnificence upon closer inspection. Its architecture, characterized by meticulous craftsmanship and unique design elements, stands as a testament to the skill and artistry of its builders.

Despite undergoing various modifications over time, the Assembly Hall primarily retains its wooden structure, crafted by some of the most skilled artisans of its time. Its architectural style, known as “noi cong ngoai quoc,” draws inspiration from ancient China and is typically associated with pagodas. The inner architecture follows the shape of the Chinese character “cong” (工), while the outer structure resembles the character “quoc” (国).

The Assembly Hall is divided into three distinct sections, each serving a specific function. The facade greets visitors with meticulously carved stone sculptures, depicting various legends and folk stories. Inside the front house, intricate carvings adorn the wooden and stone elements, showcasing the cultural heritage of the Chaozhou people. The pointed tile roofs, resembling flower petals, add to the ornate beauty of the structure.

Moving into the main house, visitors encounter three interconnected spaces supported by sizable wooden pillars adorned with dragon motifs symbolizing strength and power. The wooden doors are intricately carved with symbols of prosperity and good fortune. At the center of the main house lies a holy altar, embellished with splendid carvings and ceremonial accessories, where worshippers gather to pay homage to the gods of the sea and sky.

Finally, the back house serves as a space for welcoming guests and preparing offerings during special occasions, such as the Lantern Festival. During this festival, the Congregation holds special rituals for prayer and worship, further enriching the spiritual significance of the Assembly Hall.

3. What to See and Do?

What to See and Do
What to See and Do

The Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation stands out as one of the largest and most beautiful assembly halls in Hoi An. Despite its location away from the bustling center, this hall offers a unique charm appreciated by many tourists seeking a serene escape from the crowds.

Visitors are drawn to the hall’s stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and rich mythical symbolism, making it a popular spot for capturing timeless photographs. Meanwhile, locals frequent the hall to partake in worship, offer their prayers, and show reverence to the deities. Traditionally, traders visit at the start of the year to seek blessings for prosperity, while others seek happiness and good fortune for their families.

To fully immerse yourself in the local customs, consider preparing offerings such as fruits and flowers and participating in traditional rituals. Burning incense and clasping hands together while murmuring prayers are common practices observed throughout Vietnam, allowing visitors to respectfully engage with the spiritual traditions of the region.

4. How to Get There?

The Assembly Hall is located within the Ancient Town of Hoi An. To reach it from the renowned Bridge Pagoda, simply walk approximately 750 meters along Tran Phu Street toward the Quan Cong Temple, and you’ll arrive at the hall. Combining a visit to the Assembly Hall with a tour of the ancient Hoi An Town allows you to fully appreciate the rich cultural heritage and architectural marvels of this historic area.

5. Visiting Tips

If you’re craving an unforgettable experience, mark your calendar for the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the first lunar month. This vibrant event draws crowds of locals and tourists alike to the Assembly Hall, offering a mesmerizing cultural spectacle.

For those seeking a more serene exploration of history, visiting on other days of the year is ideal. The hall typically remains open all day, allowing you to plan your visit according to your schedule.

As a place of local reverence, it’s essential to dress modestly when visiting the Assembly Hall. Avoid wearing short skirts, cut-out dresses, or transparent clothing, and ensure your limbs are adequately covered.

With its wealth of cultural and architectural treasures, the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation promises an enriching experience. It stands as one of the most captivating cultural attractions in Hoi An, making it a must-visit destination on your next journey to this UNESCO-listed ancient town.