Talking about Hue Imperial City, people often think directly to the old citadel, the romantic Huong River, the unique cuisine of the Royal, etc. However, besides those famous mentioned places, the busy Dong Ba Market is always among the must-see destinations in any Hue tours to discover the beauty of this city from the past to the present.
Famous conical hats in Dong Ba Market
Dong Ba Market is located along the Northern bank of Huong River, on Tran Hung Dao Street – the main street of Hue City. Today, the name – Dong Ba Market is too familiar with both domestic and international tourists through Vietnam travel agency. Having visited Hue at least once, visitors have to visit Dong Ba Market to feel the trading soul of Hue after such a long period of time.
Specialties in Dong Ba Market
To Dong Ba Market during a Hue day tour, you will certainly be amazed by the unique material culture of this capital: Phu Cam conical hats, Ke Mon Jewellery, Hien Luong knives or scissors and a lot of local specialties dishes such as mussel rice and beef vermicelli. For local people who have spent years living in this old citadel, Dong Ba Market is not only a trading center, but it also is the soul of Hue, because up to now, it still preserves the original beauty of this city.
Trading scene in Dong Ba
Before Dong Ba Market was formed, outside the Chanh Dong Gate (or Dong Ba Gate) under the dynasty of King Gia Long, there had been a large market called “Quy Gia Thi”, which meant the market for returners. The name of the market marks the return of Phu Xuan to the Nguyen’s troops.
According to many records of Vietnam tour operators, in 1885, the Capital fell; at the same time, Quy Gia Market was burned. In 1887, King Dong Khanh asked people to rebuild this market and renamed it Dong Ba Market.
Dong Ba Market in the past
In 1899, in the urban renovation following the Western style, King Thanh Thai moved Dong Ba Market to the new location as today, while the old location became the Dong Ba French – Vietnamese School.
As introduced by a Vietnam travel agency, Dong Ba Market under King Thanh Thai’s dynasty consisted of 4 booth rows: front, rear, right, left. The front row had 8 booths, the back row had 12 booths, the right row had 13 booths, all of which were tiled. In the middle of the market, there was a bell tower with three floors. The first floor had 4 walls, each wall had two doors, while the upper floors both had a door on each side and a clock showing the time. Until the French colonial era, this bell tower became a clock tower and it also was a characteristic architectural feature of the famous ancient imperial city of Hue.
The bell tower
In addition to that, in the market people also built a stone well with a machine system to support water scooping. When the water was needed, people would pull the handle and the water would naturally come out.
In the early twentieth century, Dong Ba Market was repaired many times but it still retained the original architecture. By 1967, the Saigon government destroyed the old market and rebuilt the new one. Nevertheless, the unfinished work was totally destroyed by the US bombing in the Hue campaign in Spring 1968.
Then, the Saigon authority had made a temporary repair to meet the trading demand of the locals. By 1987, Dong Ba Market was restored on a larger scale. In addition to the bell tower in the center, Dong Ba Market has 9 new surrounding housing rows along with 4 new booth rows such as fish market, self-production zone, and service area, with the total construction area up to nearly 15.600 m2.
At the time being, although the shape of business activities is suitable for the modern lifestyle, somewhere in Dong Ba Market, people still find the old souls hidden inside which makes people remember of a beautiful Hue City in the past.