The Thanh Toan tile-roofed Bridge crosses a canal flowing from the beginning to the end of Thanh Toan village, Thuy Thanh Commune, Huong Thuy district at present. The village is about 8 km from Hue city on the eastward.
Thanh Thuy village was established in the 16th century. Among the emigrants from Thanh Hoa following Lord Nguyen Hoang to Thuan Hoa, there were 12 family heads who settled down there to be the 12 initial families of the village. One niece of the sixth generation of the Tran family – Mrs Tran Thi Dao – offered the fund to the village to build a wooden bridge so that the villagers on both sides of the canal could transport conveniently and benighted travellers could rest on their way. Mrs Tran Thi Dao was a childless wife of a high-rank mandarin in Le Hien Tong reign. She wanted to used her money for charity. In Canh Hung 37th year, Emperor Le Hien Tong granted the village a document to praise Mrs Tran Thi Dao and exempted the villagers from many taxes for them to remember her and to live after her example. In 1925, Emperor Khai Dinh also granted a document to bestow her “Duc Bao, Trung Hung Linh Pho” and to order the villagers to set up an altar on the bridge to worship her.
The tile-roofed Thanh Toan is an arched wooden bridge, 17m long and 4m wide. On both sides of the bridge length are 2 rows of wooden flatforms and parapets for people to lean their backs. The bridge is roofed with tubes. A researcher into Vietnamese ancient aesthetics – Louis Bezacier – classified Thanh Toan a rare and the most aesthetically valuable bridge among those of Vietnam. In the first half of the 20th century, there were the two most famous bridges of this style Phuc Toai and Phu Khe in the north, Thanh Toan in Hue and Nhat Ban (i.e. Lai Vien Kieu, also called Chua Cau) in Hoi An. The roofs of the bridges in the north are made of flat tiles, in the centre are made of tube tiles.
The tile-roofed Thanh Toan bridge is not only an ancient architectural remain with highly historic and cultural values but also a tourist attraction. The bridge was built over 2 centuries ago and damaged many times by storms, floods and wars. However, after the bridge was destroyed, the villagers always contributed to repair, renovate and preserve it. The Thanh Toan bridge with its tile-roof has entered into the moods and aspirations of many generations as well as inspired the poetic souls of the local people and travellers, their contents are still handed down among the people or engraved right on the bridge.
In September 1991, the bridge was greatly renovated according to the old design and officially accepted by the Cultural Ministry as a national remains, a rare and appreciated beauty-spot of the whole country.