To know a city, walk its bridges!
The Truong Tien Bridge is one of the top Hue attractions to visit. It crosses the romantic Perfume River as a symbol of Hue ancient capital. Its central position during more than 100 years have made Truong Tien bridge become a part of the historical land. The six-span bridge have been quietly seeing things that became symbolic of the many wars that took place in Hue, Vietnam.
One said “To know a city, walk its bridges”! They keep incredible stories only longing for you to tell. Walking the Truong Tien is the most wonderful thing to do in Hue for you to hear its touching story.
Truong Tien Bridge was built between May 1899 and October 1900 under Emperor Thanh Thai era. Although most travel sites claims this to be a work of Gustave Eiffel (an impossibility! Given the fact that Eiffel retired in 1893). Surprisingly, French government correspondence relating to its construction shows that it in fact was in fact built by Schneider et Letellier.
The meaning of “Trường Tiền bridge”
Have you ever thought about the meaning of Truong Tien bridge?
According to the Vietnamese-Chinese dictionary, Trường Tiền (Tràng Tiền) is a short name for mint factory. Because the bridge was located next to an old mint factory. However, many people think that, its name may be the hope for a prosperous and lasting country.
In fact, there is an interesting story about the mint factory and the origin of this name.
Story of Mint Factory
In 1774, the governor of Nghệ An province, Bùi Thế Đạt, launched an attack on the South with a total of 30,000 troops. At the beginning of 1775s, Trinh successfully occupied the “Đàng Trong” or “Phú Xuân citadel” by powerful forces. Thus, Bùi Thế Đạt was appointed as a supervisor ever since.
After taking over Phú Xuân, Bui The Dat received the order of the North imperial court to open a large mint factory. Originally, it was located by the bank of Huong River (north of Truong Tien bridge today). He collected scrap items and weapons to mint for Lord Lê – Trịnh.
The mint factory existed only for four months. However, with the fact that a General of “Đàng Ngoài” Military opened a mint factory in “Đàng Trong”, this was a special event in Thuan Hoa land at that time.
This event interpreted the origin of the name “Truong Tien” ( literally “Royal Mint Bridge”) still exists today. It stood outside the Citadel, close to its northern end.
In 1995, Trường Tiền bridge was restored with French assistance.
Trường Tiền bridge: The War Witness in Hue
The Hue soul bridge has been through it all with Hue people. Time, disaster, wars you name it! It stood there watching human fighting not only with nature but also against each other. There was tears, crying, shouting and lot of blood that saddened it over time.
The first and foremost damage our Hue bridge suffer was in 1904. The bridge friend was badly damaged by a devastating typhoon that raged our poor Hue city.
It destroyed about two out of three spans of bridge so people rebuilt it in later years. Known initially as the “ Pont-Thanh Thai” and later “Pont-Clémenceau” during its re-inauguration, the bridge was completely restored in 1937 and many outer lanes added for bicycles and walkers.
Under French war
The French War or the Indochina War lasted for 100 years in Vietnam. In particular, Hue was once the headquarter of French Indochina. Truong Tien helped many French officers and locals to cross the Perfume River safely.
In the later year when French was losing the World War II and ousted by the Japanese, our Hue bridge witnessed an invasion of an Asian troop whom stayed in Hue for 5 years.
On the other hand, the Viet Minh managed to make Bao Dai Emperor abdicate in the Ngu Phung Tower in August 1945. Truong Tien had to say goodbye to its beloved landlord, the Dynasty that founded Hue and the South of Vietnam.
Unfortunately, France did not want to give up its fertile colony. This time, they aimed at gaining power in Hue with the best military weapons.
On December 19th, 1946, while confronting with about 750 strong French battalions in the Citadel, the Việt Minh force decided to destroy two of the Pont Clémenceau’s spans to cut their supply. At 2 AM, the explosion shook the city. Truong Tien bridge was elevated at the explosion site, then quickly collapsed. The resistance in Hue so began.
Under American War
The bridge was rebuilt quickly and reinaugurated in 1948.
After the establishment of Republic of Vietnam in 1955, the bridge was renamed “Nguyễn Hoàng bridge” after the founding lord of the Nguyễn dynasty.
Once again on 16th, February, 1968, our bridge witnessed the most famous Battle of Hue. Also, a ton of bombs knocked down at the 4th spans which completely destroyed the third pilaster of the bridge. Therefore, a wooden pontoon bridge was built at third spans and fourth spans temporarily.
Although being seriously “wounded” while sparsely “mended”, our friend did not forget to help thousand of local residents running away from the rain of bombs and heavy fighting in and around Hue Citadel area.
It was a nightmare not only for Truong Tien but also in memory of our grandmas and parents.
However, it was repaired once again and standing as “Trường Tiền bridge”.
A Dear Friend of Hue
Wars have been over for Hue and our friend Truong Tien bridge. Nowadays with its charm Truong Tien Bridge and the Perfume River have become an endless inspiration for artists. Especially, you will meet the image of the graceful girls wearing the purple “áo dài” and conical hats taking memory pictures at the bridge Truong Tien.
It is a beautiful sign of peace to trade for all what Hue had to suffer. A costly peace for Vietnam!
Trường Tiền bridge: The Symbol of Peace
Over 100 years, the Truong Tien Bridge has been standing strong with our Hue. For once in your life if you can visit Hue, be sure to slow yourself in a walking tour to hear Truong Tien story. Our Hue bridge friend will reward you with most beautiful memory of a resilient Hue, the homeland we deeply love!
To hear Truong Tien bridge story, join our Hue Walk of Revolution, the best Hue Walking Tour to learn about Vietnam during French and American Wars!