VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Central Vietnam

Demilitarised Zone - Dong Ha - Lao Bao - Quang Tri - Hue - Around Hue - Suoi Voi Bach Ma National Park - Lang Co Beach - Hai Van Pass Tunnel
Ba Na Hill Station - Suoi Mo - Danang - Around Danang - Hoi An - Around Hoi An My Son - Tra Kieu - Tam Ky

TRA KIEU (SIMHAPURA)

Formerly called Simhapura (Lion Citadel), Tra Kieu was the first capital city of Champa, serving in that capacity from the 4th to the 8th centuries. Today nothing remains of the ancient city except the rectangular ramparts. A large number of artefacts, including some of the finest carvings in the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang, were found here.
Mountain Church
You can get a wonderful view of the city's outlines and the surrounding countryside from the Mountain Church (Nha Tho Nui), on the top of Buu Chau Hill. This modern, open-air structure was built in 1970 to replace an earlier church destroyed by an American bomb A Cham tower once stood on this spot. It's worth visiting the little shop at the bottom of the hill to look at a picture of the site in antiquity and peruse its collection of small artefacts. The Mountain Church is 6.5km from Hwy 1A and 19.5km from My Son- Within Tra Kieu, it is 200m from the morning market, Cho Tra Kieu, and 550m from Tra Kieu Church.
Tra Kieu Church
This church (Dia So Tra Kieu), which serves the town's Catholic population of 3000, was built in the late 19th century. There's a fantastic ceramic mosaic dragon on the external stairs. A priest from here, who died in 1988, was interested in the Cham civilisation and amassed a collection of artefacts found by local people. A 2nd-floor room in the building to the right of the church opened as a museum in 1990. The round ceramic objects with faces on them, which date from the 8th and 10th centuries, were affixed to the ends of tiled roofs. The face is of Kala, the God of Time. According to local belief this church was the site of a miracle in 1885, witnessed by 80 people. At that time, when the Catholic villagers were under attack by anti-French forces, a vision of a lady in white, believed to be Mary the mother of jesus, appeared on the top of the church. At the end of a 21-day siege during which 500 shells were fired on the village, the church and those who had sheltered in it remained unharmed. While not officially recognised by the Catholic Church, this is a popular site for Vietnamese pilgrims. The original Mountain Church was built to commemorate this event - although it didn't achieve such divine protection itself during the American War. Tra Kieu Church is 7km from Hwy 1A and 19km from My Son. It is down a street opposite the town's Clink of Western Medicine (Quay ThuocTayY). Expect to stop for directions.
Getting There & Away
Many day trips to My Son from Hoi An in-clude a stop-off at Tra Kieu. Otherwise you'll need to rent a bike or a car and driver.