Culture, Art, and History in Da Nang and Hoi An

With a long and often tumultuous history that encompasses the heady days of the Champa Kingdom, Hoi An’s heyday as a regional trading hub, the American War, and Vietnam’s recent emergence as a tourist destination, the central part of the country is not short in intrigue.

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A UNESCO World Heritage site in a mountain valley about 40 miles west of Da Nang, My Son is a vestige of the Champa kingdom, a culture that was heavily shaped by Hindu beliefs and practices. Built between the 4th and 14th centuries, the temples pay homage to the god Shiva, though the deity is often referred to here by different names. While some of the shrines are partially restored, and others overgrown with greenery or showing their age (many were destroyed by American bombing during the Vietnam War), the sheer scope of the ruins are proof of the reach of Hinduism and the lofty ambitions of the Cham kings.
Sơn Mỹ Memorial, Tịnh Khê, Quảng Ngãi, Quang Ngai, Vietnam
Close to Hoi An, tranquil Son My (My Lai) was the setting for one of the most horrific crimes of the American War when US troops killed at least 504 villagers in an orgy of violence. The Son My memorial -- a dramatic stone sculpture of an elderly woman holding up her fist in defiance -- is a poignant tribute to the innocents that died.
Da Nang, Hải Châu, Da Nang, Vietnam
Danang has a strong association with the American War. It was here that US troops first landed, it had a major US airbase and it was a designated R&R spot for US troops. It is fitting then that the city is home to one of Vietnam’s more interesting and comprehensive war museums. The museum is split into four sections including an outdoor display of military equipment, a military museum, a reproduction of Ho Chi Minh’s house and a Ho Chi Minh Museum.
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