Across Hoai River, Cau bridge also known as Lai Vien Kieu is the highlight of the architectural ensemble of the ancient town of Hoi An.
Cau bridge is a bridge and a small temple. With its feminine curved shape and its brilliant history, Cau bridge was designated as a symbol of Hoi An. That’s why it always appears on all publications and also exists in the mind of every local resident. Interestingly, the bridge is a testament to the friendship between Vietnam – Japan since it was built by the Japanese merchants in the 17th century and was named by Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu as Lai Vien Kieu in 1719. The old name implies the gratitude to friends from afar. With a length of 18 m and 7 spans, Cau temple owns exquisitely carved motifs, yin yang tiled roof, and ceramic plates stuck on the top of the roof.
Cau Temple or Cau Bridge is one of the four remaining roofed bridges in Vietnam. It is widely used for traffic but it is also a point of interest for local residents or friends from afar to come to a stop and having friendly chats. Close to Hoi An is the old imperial capital of Hue also known as World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. Located in Huong Thuy district, Thanh Toan roofed bridge is also very popular and always welcomes a lot of tourists to visit. The two remaining roofed bridge are located in two provinces of Ninh Binh and Nam Dinh. It could be said that the four bridges are worthy of being considered as national treasures since they are symbols of integral aesthetics, meticulous techniques and sophisticated designs.
Thanh Toan Bridge looks like a rainbow on the air and a house on the river. The wooden bridge is 17 m long and 4 m wide. The tiled roof is made of tube – shaped ceramic tiling. The bridge consists of 7 compartments. On special occasions, a delightful rural market was held in front of the bridge and people came to the market to participate in funny folk games. Along with the imperial palace and the tombs of the Nguyen dynasty kings, Thanh Toan adds to the dreamlike look of Hue city.
Go to the North, the two roofed bridges at Ninh Binh and Nam Dinh is also famous points of interest for art researchers and tourists. Visitors to Phat Diem are strongly impressed by the roofed bridge across An River. This is a famous bridge and a popular ancient temple. The arched wooden bridge is of 3 spans, each contains 4 compartments, with a total length of 36 m and a width of 3 m. Two sides of the body are two rows of banisters and pillars made of ironwood. The bridge was roofed with traditional red tiling. At the beginning and the end of the bridge are two three – step staircases, one leads to the shore and the other leads to the river.
About 100 km far from there is the roofed bridge in Luong pagoda, Hai Anh commune, Hai Hau district, Nam Dinh province built 300 – 400 years ago across Le Trung Giang river. Located about 100 m far from Luong temple, right on the paths to the temple, the roofed bridge and the temple together create a vestige. The bridge consisting of 9 compartments, with 40 round pillars made of ironwood. Along the two sides are long corridors serving as seats. The bridge makes bold arches onto 18 stone pillars and massive beams. Skillful workers had created a brilliant framework for the bridge, especially curved tiled roof like a dragon flying on the air. Unfortunately, Hai Hau district seems to be still unknown for tourists. Along with Pho Minh and Co Le pagodas, the relics of Phu Day…, the bridge near Luong temple has contributed to a delightful rustic scene of villages in Nam Dinh.
Scattered from the North to Central Vietnam, old bridges which still exist is priceless national treasures and a living testament to the flourishing of Vietnamese fine architecture in the old days. Such incredible artworks bring us immortal values of humanism in daily simple and rustic life despite many hardships to overcome.