My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam - World Cultural Heritage

My Son Sanctuary in the center of Vietnam, located at 70 km from Da nang – the 4th largest city of the country, is easily accessible by road from the Hue Forbidden City, the Hoi An ancient port town... The My Son Sanctuary has been classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1999 for its cultural, historical and architectural values …

My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam

The My Son Sanctuary is located in a closed valley with mountainous terrain, which is spectacular and sacred. Here, there were more than 70 temples of the Champa civilization which is crystallized in the remains of eternal materials containing the values ​​of the history, culture, architecture, art ... created in a long period of 9 centuries (from the 4th century to the 13th century). The My Son Sanctuary is often compared with the famous monuments in Southeast Asia as Angkor in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar, and Borobudur in Indonesia…

Kazik (Kazimiers - Kwiatkowski) - The talented architect who has spent many years to study the My Son Sanctuary said: the ancient people of Champa sent their spiritual world in the earth, stone ... and was able to count on nature to make a beautiful and majestic My Son. The My Son Sanctuary is the priceless museum of architecture, sculpture and of art of Humanity that we need to have more time to fully understand it.

The time, the wars ... have severely destroyed these monuments. But the remains of this sanctuary still play an extremely important role in the network of the World architectural, cultural and historical heritages. Thanks to its cultural, historical and architectural values …UNESCO classified the My Son Sanctuary as the World Cultural Heritage in 1999.

History of My Son Sanctuary:

My Son Sanctuary was built by the ancient kingdom of Champa centered on agriculture and fishing in the region that rivaled the kingdom of Angkor in Cambodia, even exceeded Angkor in the point of trade of natural resources. With prosperity through to forestry, agricultural products (rice) with seafood, the Kingdom of Champa was brilliantly developed by practicing trade with India in the first years after Jesus Christ. With the influences of Hinduism in India, many temples were built at the actual My Son Sanctuary to worship the Gods like Brahma and Vishnu but especially Shiva.

My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam

Historically, the My Son Sanctuary was formed continuously for nine centuries, from the 4th to the 13th century. It was the religious and theocratic center of the Champa Kingdom for nearly 1,000 years where the Champa kings built these beautiful temples. After the fall of the kingdom of Champa, especially after the three successive wars (First War of Indochina, Second War of Indochina and Vietnam War), many temples were destroyed, but the remaining towers in My Son Sanctuary were well preserved, reveal some aspects of the secrets of the ancient civilization of Champa.

Based on steles that remain, we know that the My Son Sanctuary with temples in shape of form of towers was started to be built in the 4th century by the Cham people of Champa kingdom to worship their Saint Shiva, kings, gods… in Hinduism. In addition, My Son Sanctuary was the place of the ceremonies, the intermediary between the kings and the world of the Gods.

Through the Cham history, My Son Sanctuary was still the cultural, religious center of different dynasties of Champa kingdom and also the burial place of kings, venerable priests… Under the point of view of architecture, brick towers of the My Son Sanctuary are influenced by the one of India.

Originally, the My Son Sanctuary had only a wooden temple burned in the 6th century. In the early 7th century, King Sambhuvarman (Reign from 577 to 629) built the first temple in brick that still exists. Then, other dynasties continued to restore it by building more temples in brick to worship the Gods of Hinduism, but especially Shiva.

Brick is the main material to preserve memories of this mysterious people. The construction techniques of the towers of the Cham people remain a mystery until now. We don’t always found a suitable answer: How the towers stand up until now? How to cook the bricks…

The values ​​of the My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam are considered by archaeologists, historians and researchers as the masterpiece of construction under this period, both in terms of engineering and sculpture. These are unique works in Southeast Asia. This is also a living example of sharing culture, the integration of local culture and external influences, especially the art and architecture of India. The My Son Sanctuary shows vividly the role of the Kingdom of Champa in history, culture and politics of South Asia.

My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam

Archaeology of My Son Sanctuary:

After the disappearance of the Champa kingdom, the My Son Sanctuary had been also forgotten and covered by jungle as the Angkor temples in Cambodia. In 1885, My Son was found. Ten years later, the French archaeologists began to do the research.

The work of French researchers was divided into two stages:

From 1898 to 1899, Louis de Finot and Launet de Lajonquere studied inscriptions, steles…
From 1901-1902: Henri Parmentier studied the art. In 1904, he occupied the same archaeological excavations with Olrpeaus here.

In 1904, the first documents on My Son Sanctuary had been announced by Henri Parmentier and Louis Finot. Through their research, we know that: more than 100 years old, My Son had 68 architectural works grouped in A, A, N.


The work of conservation of My Son Sanctuary took place in 1937 by French researchers. In the period of 1937-1938, several temples have been restored. But most were destroyed by the bombing of the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam War.

Although many statues, altars and lingas were transported to France during the colonial period and recently moved to museums such as the Museum of Vietnamese History, Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, Museum of Cham Sculpture in Da Nang.

In 2002 – 2004, the Vietnamese government has restored a part of this heritage with the aid of Unesco. In 2005, Quang nam province built the house of exhibition of objects from the My Son Sanctuary.

My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam

Architecture of My Son Sanctuary:

The art and architecture of the temples in My Son Sanctuary have the Indian style. The sanctuary has several groups of towers, in which has a central tower (Kalan) in the middle surrounded of other small towers.

In each Kalan, Cham people worship the Linga (phallus) in stone and the statue of Shiva Saint. The towers are conical, the symbol of the summit of Meru divine mountain.  According to the legend of Hinduism, this is the residence of Hindu gods. Each tower has an opened door to the east or the direction of sunrise, the parts reserved for ceremonies, for preparations of offerings… The absolutely beautiful architecture of towers is really impressive with frescoes of deities, flowers, legendary stories of Hinduism.

Although it was strongly influenced by Hinduism, the Buddhism elements are also found on the towers of My Son Sanctuary because the Buddhism became the main belief of the Cham people in the 10th century.

Certainly, this sanctuary - classified as World Cultural Heritage – which is located between the Hue Forbidden City and the Hoi An ancient town in central Vietnam is an ideal destination in search of a thriving but lost civilization… You can send us an email to: for more free details on the My Son Sanctuary.