Pho Hien (Hung Yen) – Imprints from the ancient time

  • 12/12/2019

Pho Hien is a historical destination in Hung Yen city. In the 17-18 centuries, this place was a famous trade port of Vietnam. At that time, Pho Hien was an urban area stretching along the left bank of the Red River. In addition to the capital Thang Long - Ke Cho, the most flourishing capital in the country, Pho Hien was prominent as a second urban area. Folk used to have the saying: "Thu nhat Kinh Ky, thu nhi Pho Hien" (The Capital city ranks first, Pho Hien ranks second) - affirms the significant importane of Pho Hien's position in Vietnam’s history). The epitaph of Thien Ung Pagoda, built in the 7th year of Vinh To (1625, during the reign of King Le Than Tong), said: "Pho Hien is well-known to everywhere as a small miniature of Trang An the capital.

Pho Hien 
Pho Hien

As a major trading port in the North, Pho Hien easily accommodated different cultures. Pho Hien from a small town of ordinary residence developed into a big city in the 17th century and was then outstandingly imbued with economic nuances. At first, there were just trading activities through the market network, but after that, the commercial activities became increasingly developing and became the key economic activity, especially foreign trade due to its advantages of being a river wharf, a focal point for regional transportation routes.

Pho Hien's most prosperous period was around the middle of the 17th century (1630-1680). After that, there was the recession process, which took it almost two centuries to finally become Hung Yen provincial town. The most obvious manifestation of Pho Hien's recession is the decline in foreign trade. On the other hand, at this time, the regional political situation and the economic and trade system of the East Sea were also changed. China put forward the ban policy, opening an attractive crowded market. Japan also turned to an export strategy of silver, gold and silk. Direct sea routes become more airy without intermediaries. In such circumstances, foreign trade in Vietnam and Pho Hien in particular were significantly decreased. Western traders in Pho Hien and Ke Cho drawback one after the others, and Western merchant ships were very few left in here as a result. Pho Hien was then completely absent from foreign buyers, except for Chinese.

Pho HienChurch in Pho Hien - Hung Yen

Also in the eighteenth century, many social and political upheavals took place in Pho Hien. In 1730, the Man Tru dyke broke, the people of many areas in Son Nam became poor, had to spare food. The subsequent uprisings of Hoang Cong Chat and Nguyen Huu Cau devastated the area, further exhausting Pho Hien's economic potentials. And then there was a war between Tay Son army and Lord Trinh. Until the nineteenth century, under the Nguyen dynasty, the role of an economic city and an international trading port of Pho Hien was no longer available. In 1831, with the reform policy of King Minh Mang, Hung Yen province was established, and built in the old Pho Hien area, playing a considerable role in the military but completely lost the economic position as a customs station, which was then transferred to Ninh Hai wharf (Hai Phong).

Through historical events and the change due to nature's development, Pho Hien still preserves and maintains more than 100 valuable historical - cultural relics, 8 relics of which are  classified as national historical sites, such as May temple in Xich Dang (worshiping general Pham Phong At), Ngoc Thanh temple in Ne Chau (worshiping the second wife of King Le Dai Hanh), Tran temple (worshiping Tran Hung Dao), Ung temple (worshiping Pham Ngu Lao), Van Mieu Xich Dang, Kim Chung Tu, Thien Ung Tu, Thien Hau harem, Mau temple, Dong Do Quang Hoi. Big pagodas in Pho Hien including Chuong pagoda and Hien pagoda (Thien Ung tu), and Nam Chau pagoda. There are also many temples and shrines. Many festivals associated with these relics are organised every year, redisplaing  the image of Pho Hien hundreds of years ago, which attracts thousands of domestic and foreign tourists to visit, learn and carry out researches.

 May Temple - Xich DangXich Dang Temple is solemn and supremacy in Pho Hien

Pho Hien


Ung Temple Phu Ung Temple (worshiping Pham Ngu Lao)

Phu Ung Temple

Triple gate of Chuong Temple 
Triple gate of Chuong Temple

Rock Brigde
Stone bridge on the way to the Nom village. A completely stone bridge with pillars decorated with elaborate carved dragon heads.

 Nom Temple 
Nom Temple (Linh Thong Co Tu) - The sacred ancient temple with terracotta statues

Pho Hien relics complex is located on Pho Hien old territory, now belonging to the land from Dang Chau village (Lam Son ward) to Nam Chau village (Hong Chau ward) on an area of about 5 km x 1 km in Hung Yen city.

Visiting Pho Hien, you will find it fortunate to be able to admire the unique architectural complex, visit the historical relics of nostalgia over time, explore the traditional culture of the North and enjoy a rustic, peaceful and simple atmosphere.

Pho Hien is just over 60 km from the center of Hanoi capital and it is quite easy to travel to here by public transport or car, motorbike.

by Quynh Nhi

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