Ngoi bridge, Luong pagoda, and Phong Lac communal house in Hai Anh commune, Hai Hau district, Nam Dinh province embrace unique architectural styles illustrating the talents of local artisans.
The relic complex was closely associated with the locals’ sea encroachment cause 500 years ago. After hundreds of years, the relics have remained intact.
Ngoi bridge is about 100 meters from Luong pagoda and Phong Lac communal house. The three relics were built almost over the same decade, so they are often thought of together.
“Luong pagoda, Phong Lac communal house, and Ngoi bridge are the main historical relics of Hai Anh commune. All the relics have remained intact until today. The curve design of the Ngoi bridge is very beautiful. The village festival is held on the full-moon day of the 3rd lunar month,” said Lam Thi Nham in Hai Anh commune.
Ngoi bridge crosses over the Trung Giang river, a small river along Hai Anh commune. The bridge has 9 apartments standing on 19 square stone pillars. Above the stone pillars are iron wood beams. The roof of the bridge is designed in the shape of a curving dragon. The bridge is not just a transport structure but also a cultural relic, which the locals are proud of.
“In the old days, there was not much traffic crossing the bridge. The road was much lower. There were three steps to get to the bridge. Now, the road has been upgraded. The bridge is now hundreds of years old”, said Tran Thi Diu in Hai Anh commune said.
The wood structure of the bridge was not complexly carved but it reflects a truly Vietnamese architecture style, especially through the arrangement of its pillars, beams and assembling of wood hinges. The bridge also has gates at its either end and two rows of pillars along both sides. Though many new bridges have been built, Ngoi bridge remains popular with locals, especially young people, who consider the bridge their meeting place.
“It’s cool here. The bridge is a historical relic and we love to come here. My friends and I often meet here because the bridge is very popular, ancient, and beautiful,” said Nguyen Thanh Phuong, a upper secondary school student in Hai Minh, which neighbors Hai Anh commune.
Phong Lac communal house was built when the village was founded. This is the place for community meetings. 86-year old Dang Van Phu, a local in Hai Anh commune, said hundreds of years ago, ancestors of the Vu, Hoang, Pham, and Tran clans came to settle in this village. Their children honor them as village genies and worship them in Phong Lac communal house.
Luong pagoda, also known as 100-apartment pagoda, was built in the late 15thcentury. Previously, it was very small. Now, it is comprised of 100 apartments and underwent several restorations in the late 19th and early 20th century. The pagoda includes the architectural styles of different historical periods, but those of the 17th and 18th century are the most prominent. The pagoda still retains a large number of steles illustrating contributions to the pagoda and changes in the local life.
Dang Van Phu said the complex of Ngoi bridge, Luong pagoda, and Phong Lac communal house has been featured in poems and literature.
“Here, we have a famous verse saying Quan Anh has been famous since old times with Phong Lac communal house, Phuc Lam pagoda stele, green tea on Ngoi bridge, and the silk products of Luong market”, he added.
Because of its unique architectural styles, the relic complex has become a popular destination in Nam Dinh province.