Despite the rapidly increasing urbanization, especially in the capital, the old district of Hanoi tries to fight back and preserve its identity, that of a bustling old shopping district and characterized by these old houses reflecting the traditional architecture and construction techniques of Vietnam. Many traditional houses with good preservation during fifteen years can be seen in the old quarter of Hanoi, including the old house located at 87 Ma Ma Street, the most famous and well worth a visit!
A story in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
This former house at 87 Ma Ma Street is located in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the one commonly referred to as the 36 Guild District, the oldest shopping district in the Vietnamese capital.
The house was built in the late 19th century when Ma May Street was a bustling commercial street called “Black Pavillion Street” because the army of the Black Pavilions had come from the street. China. As the dike was not yet built, Ma May Street was the center of the commercial activities of a very active river port at the intersection of the Tô Lich River and the Red River.
The surroundings of Hanoi dotted with craft villages, which on the banks of the river, have come to sell their goods on the banks of the river in the capital.
The house of 87 Ma May did not deviate from the rule and was devoted to trade. The house had been inhabited by several generations of traders and until 1954 it was a shop where medicinal herbs were sold. Then, the Vietnamese government requisitioned the house to accommodate five families until 1999. Each of them practiced his trade: grocer, civil servant, tailor and even a martial arts teacher.
Finally, the house has been renovated in the framework of cooperation between Hanoi and Toulouse. The three-story building that had been built in the back, as well as the internal subdivisions added over the years, were demolished to restore the house to its original structure. Restored, the house was opened to the public on October 27, 1999, and in 2004, it became a Vietnamese heritage property, from the last century.
A singular and exceptional architecture
This old house is not only devoted to commercial activities but a remarkable witness of traditional Vietnamese architecture in an old bustling urban center in the late nineteenth as well. It was built in tubular form and Hanoian called it tube houses because they are just that: a long, narrow tube subdivided into sections to serve all the needs of the family, commerce, and residence. As soon as you enter the house, you will see large gaps on the road allowing you to trade.
Then, you can observe that the house consists of a series of three buildings arranged one behind the other and separated by courtyards that provide brightness and ventilation. The ground floor of the first two buildings is dedicated to trade and receive guests in a beautifully decorated living room. On the floor of these buildings, you can see the altar of ancestors, a very important piece in the Vietnamese culture considered the heart of the house.
There are also rooms and corridors where residents are likely to grow plants and ornamental plants. Then in the backyard, you can see the kitchen where we used to cook over a wood fire. People appreciate the sophistication of the home, its tasteful décor, solid wooden furnishings, beautiful staircases impregnated with delectable luminosity, and sliding wooden doors that are intricately carved. The special feature of its architecture is a harmonious combination of wood, tile roofs with wooden beams system and many decorative details
A house dedicated to culture
In addition to being a great example of the typical architecture of Hanoi’s Old Town, Ma May’s home has become a cultural space. There are many cultural events, art exhibitions, and exhibits as well as traditional Vietnamese handicrafts such as traditional paintings, lacquer, calligraphy or ceramics, and pottery,… most of them are hosted here.
Every evening, at 19:00, the terrace of the house is transformed into a scene of ca trù, a traditional Vietnamese folk song inscribed since 2009 in the intangible heritage of humanity of UNESCO.
Open daily from 8.30 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 5.30 pm.
Admission: 10,000 VND.