As part of their cultural tradition, the Chinese built assembly halls as a place for future generations to gather after they migrated to new countries. Once a major Southeast Asian trading port, Hoi An is home to five such halls that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Recognizable by their Chinese architecture, the assembly halls generally feature ornate gates, main halls, altar rooms, and statues and murals in honor of gods and goddesses. All five of Hoi An's assembly
halls—Fujian, Chaozhou, Hainan, Cantonese, Chinese—are located on Tran Phu Street near the river.
Among them, the Fujian Hall is considered the most prominent. Built around 1960, it has bronze bells, drums, and statues on and is known for its red boat, a tribute to Thien Hau, one who is believed to save sailors from stormy seas. Beyond the fountain courtyard and ornate gate is the main hall with its altar—take note of the three fairies and 12 midwives; these symbols of fertility draw in childless couples from afar, who come to pray.
The oldest Assembly Hall, Trung Hoa, honors Goddess Thien Hau, while the Ghaozhou Hall pays tribute to the god of mastering waters. The Hainan Assembly Hall was built for the 108 Chinese merchants who were erroneously killed after being mistaken for pirates. Built in 1786, the Cantonese Assembly Hall is visited for its tranquil courtyard and ornate meeting room. The main altar here is dedicated to the Chinese General, Quan Cong.
Tran Phu St., near Chuc Thanh Pagoda, Hoi An, Vietnam