The photogenic Fujian (Phuc Kien) assembly hall was created as a place in which residents from Fujian in China could meet up and socialise whilst living or visiting Hoi An. Built around 1690 with the main gate added much later, the assembly hall is also a World Cultural Heritage site and is much visited today by those seeking a glimpse of this superb piece of architecture.
The inside of the assembly hall contains the Jinshang Golden Mountain temple dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea and caretaker of sailors, featuring altars adorned with delicately carved dragons. There is also a fertility shrine to help answer the prayers of childless couples who visit.
The Fujian assembly hall began life as a thatched pagoda dedicated to Buddha and built by the Vietnamese. The pagoda was then sold to Phuk Kien traders who undertook the restoration of the pagoda which had by then become somewhat run down. It was then reopened as the Phuk Kien Assembly Hall and became a symbolic icon of Hoi An architecture and one which has gained a reputation as a heritage masterpiece of great historical importance.
The assembly hall is full of statues, bronze bells and drums with lacquered works of art lining up in a vivid celebration of Fujian artistry. Unsurprisingly Chinese celebrations frequently take place in dramatic style at the assembly hall. Animal pictures and statues are in abundance including mythical creatures such as the Unicorn signifying knowledge, whilst the Phoenix is there in the name of nobility.
The main centre of attraction is the temple dedicated to the sea goddess Thien Hau who rests alongside the goddess Thuan Phong Nhi who is credited with hearing the distress call of ships thousands of miles away and the goddess Thien Ly Nhan who has the vision to see those ships.
It is well worth timing your visit with a Chinese festival to see the hall in its full glory. Take a moment to admire the artwork outside before or after you explore inside, when you do step inside look for the mosaic foundation complete with fish to represent achievement. There is also a turtle close by to signify endurance.
What to see
Fujian Assembly Hall bears all the fundamental features in structure of a Chinese Assembly Hall. Its ornate gate and colourful courtyard with fountains make the temple very photogenic. The main hall is the biggest room, where lies a shrine and many delicate-carved dragons. Behind the central altar are the God of Properity and the figures of the goddess of fertility, three fairies and twelve midwives (who are said to teach newborns such skills as sucking, smiling, etc.). Hence, childless couples often visit this temple to pray for children.
Not only does the temple concentrate on the worshipping of Goddess Thien Hau but also on the majestic beauty and the power of other influential gods and goddesses in the Fujian people’s belief, reflected in several murals, lacquered boards and paintings, etc. Throughout the temple, there are a plethora of statues, bronze drums, bronze bells and horizontal lacquered board engraved with Chinese characters. The whole combination and arrangement of every element in the hall tend to imply the Chinese philosophy of happiness.
In addition to its architecture, nowadays its many events and activities to celebrate Chinese’s festivals make the Fukien Assembly Hall a wonderful destination for visitors from both inside and outside of Vietnam.
How to get there
The site opens daily from 08.00AM to 05.00PM. One can walk there or travel by bike.