Thuy Bieu Ward has the soothing ambience of a peaceful village with pomelo gardens and century-old timber houses
Nha ruong, a traditional house common in Hue and many central provinces, is the main draw of Thuy Bieu Ward, located some four kilometers from Hue's center / PHOTO: VNA
Somewhat intriguingly, its name means "a water container."
Some people explain the name is a reference to the fact that the area is mostly surrounded by the famous Huong (Perfume) River.
Standing around four kilometers to the southwest of downtown Hue, Thuy Bieu Ward combines two old villages, Nguyet Bieu and Luong Quan.
In fact, it is situated at one of the river's most beautiful sections, with the Vong Canh Hill, a popular observation spot.
Opposite to the hill on the other bank is the Hon Chen Temple on Ngoc Tran Mountain with some 10 large and small religious structures; and Thien Mu, a 400-year-old pagoda situated on Ha Khe Hill. From Vong Canh, you can also see Truong Tien, the first-ever bridge to cross the river and built at the end of the 19th century.
However, the main draw of Thuy Bieu is perhaps its traditional timber houses, some of which are more than 100 years old.
Known as nha ruong, the house used to be common in Hue and many central provinces. It has lots of wooden beams and pillars carved with many details, including clouds and flowers.
Nha ruong in Hue has two layers of roof tiles, which helps people inside feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is also said that steep slant of the roofs help the structures better withstand storms.
Despite the simple architecture, the feeling of stability and comfort is palpable as soon as one enters nha ruong.
Like many other areas in Hue, houses in Thuy Bieu are often accompanied by gardens in the front. Locals do not build barriers around their gardens, but lines of low trees as divisions.
A difference is that Thuy Bieu gardens have the remarkable presence of a local specialty: thanh tra a kind of pomelo.
Thanh tra pomelos are not big and heavy like many other kinds of the citrus fruit, but it has a lightly sweet tone and its skin is easy to peel.
Even though it is harvested in the autumn, thanh tra gardens attract visitors throughout the year. In the spring, Thuy Bieu is fragrant and decorated with the white flowers of pomelos, while in the summer, it is colored green with young fruits waiting to ripen and be picked.
Amphitheater Ho Quyen was built in 1830 for fights between tigers and elephants to entertain kings and their royal family during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) / FILE PHOTO
While it imparts the countryside feelings of freshness and peace, Thuy Bieu is also home to Ho Quyen (Tiger Ring), an amphitheater for fights between tigers and elephants that used to entertain kings and their royal families during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945).
Built in 1830, the site consists of two round ramparts built with bricks. They are about 3-4 meters apart with the outer one having a diameter of 45 meters and height of 4.5 meters, while corresponding measurements for the inner rampart are 35 meters and six meters.
The audience stand, which is 1.5 meters high, can be reached through two stairways. One with 20 steps was meant for kings and their families and the other, with 15 steps, was meant for soldiers and commoners.
Between the stairways is the entrance for elephants, while tigers and panthers were kept captive in five cages opposite to the royal observation stand.
According to some documents, fights between elephants and tigers were considered big festivals. Before the amphitheater was built, Nguyen kings often watched the fights from the river, it is said.
The amphitheater was built after King Minh Mang, the dynasty's second emperor, was almost attacked by a tiger which jumped toward his boat during a fight in 1829.
The last fight to take place at the amphitheater was recorded in 1904.
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