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The Thang Long Imperial Citadel stands as a crucial relic complex, an essential stop for tourists visiting Hanoi Vietnam.
Stepping onto its grounds feels like a journey back in time to a splendid era in our nation’s history. Despite the passage of time and various challenges, the citadel boasts significant archaeological, artistic, and historical significance.
It is a rare occurrence for anyone touring the capital to overlook the exploration of this monumental site.
Essential Details About Thang Long Imperial Citadel
Location and Travel Guidance for Thang Long Imperial Citadel
Locating Thang Long Imperial Citadel is a common query for those planning a visit to this historic site. Situated at 19C Hoang Dieu Street, Dien Bien Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, the citadel holds a central position within Ba Dinh district, encompassing Dien Bien and Quan Thanh wards. It opens its gates to visitors from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
The strategic placement of Thang Long Imperial Citadel becomes evident when considering its proximity to key landmarks and government offices. It is just over 1km away from Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum, over 800m from the Vietnam National Assembly House, and approximately 1.4km from the Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam.
Navigating to Thang Long Imperial Citadel is straightforward due to its prime location. Once aware of its specific address, consider inviting friends to explore this historical gem.
Given its central location, reaching the Imperial Citadel is highly convenient. The travel route varies depending on the starting point. For those originating from the Sword Lake area, the recommended route is Trang Thi => Dien Bien Phu => Hoang Dieu => Thang Long Imperial Citadel.
Several bus routes pass through the vicinity of the Imperial City, including 09A, 143, 22A, 23, 41, 50, and E09. While bus fares are economical, bear in mind that waiting times and travel duration may be longer compared to personal vehicles. Therefore, choose the mode of transportation that aligns with your preferences and needs.
History and Architecture of Thang Long Imperial Citadel
The historical journey of Thang Long Imperial Citadel stands as a radiant milestone, preserving its significance to this day. In the year 1009, Ly Cong Uan’s ascension to the throne marked the establishment of the Ly dynasty. The subsequent relocation of the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La in 1010 saw the birth of Thang Long. The naming of Thang Long stems from a poignant moment when the king witnessed a golden dragon soaring into the sky upon setting foot on Dai La land.
Thang Long Citadel served as the capital of Dai Viet from the 11th to the 18th century, spanning the Ly, Tran, and Le dynasties. Consequently, 1010 became a pivotal date, symbolizing a millennium of civilizational history for the capital.
The construction of Thang Long Imperial Citadel commenced swiftly between the fall of 1010 and the beginning of 1011, taking advantage of favorable weather conditions. The citadel embraced a three-tiered and scientifically designed model: the outermost circle, known as the Citadel, housed the people and officials; the middle ring, named the Imperial Citadel, accommodated the king and the court’s affairs; and the innermost circle, the Forbidden City, served as the king’s residence.
During the Tran dynasty in the 13th to 14th century, grand-scale renovations and constructions occurred. King Tran Du Tong, in 1368, erected a lengthy corridor connecting Nguyen Huyen tower to Dai Trieu gate, providing shelter to civil servants from the elements during court visits.
Amidst the Tran dynasty, Thang Long Citadel endured destruction from Mongol invasions, fires, and floods, prompting extensive efforts to embellish and restore the Imperial Citadel.
In 1400, Ho Quy Ly established the Ho Dynasty and shifted the capital to Thanh Hoa, renaming Thang Long to Dong Do. Subsequent events unfolded, including Ming invasions and Le Loi’s victory, which led to the establishment of the independent Le dynasty. The Thang Long Imperial Citadel under the Le dynasty expanded significantly compared to the preceding Ly and Tran dynasties.
Le Thai To, in 1428, constructed various palaces within the Imperial Citadel, such as Kinh Thien, Van Tho, and Can Chinh palaces. However, during the reign of Le Tuong Duc, the 8th king of the Le So dynasty, the palace suffered significant damage.
The 16th century witnessed the Mac dynasty’s repairs to the citadel, adding three earth ramparts outside Dai La citadel. Trinh Tung’s later actions led to the leveling of all citadels and palaces related to the Mac dynasty.
In the Tay Son period, Quang Trung relocated the capital to Hue, leaving Thang Long in a state of ruin. Subsequent to Nguyen Anh’s victory over Tay Son, Thang Long transformed into the Bac Thanh governorate. During this period, King Gia Long ordered the demolition of Thang Long Forbidden Citadel, erecting a new square citadel. In 1873, French colonialists modified the citadel’s architecture for military purposes, signaling the gradual end of its magnificent imperial appearance.
After over a millennium of historical fluctuations, Thang Long Imperial Citadel remains a colossal structure, witnessing the ebb and flow of feudal dynasties while consistently playing a pivotal role in Hanoi and the entire country. Recognizing its immense historical and cultural value, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel Central Area attained the status of a Special National Monument in 2009 and was honored by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage during the 1,000th anniversary celebration of Thang Long – Hanoi Vietnam.
Historical Edifices within Thang Long Imperial Citadel
Despite the destructive impacts of war, remnants of the architectural marvels within the Thang Long Imperial Citadel endure. Presently, this site stands as an unmissable tourist destination in Hanoi, drawing visitors from far and wide.
Doan Mon Gate: An Architectural Gem
Featuring the distinctive design of three concentric citadels, Doan Mon stands as the innermost gateway, serving as the entrance to the Forbidden Citadel. The existing Doan Mon Gate, a testament to historical continuity, was initially constructed during the 15th century by the early Le Dynasty and underwent subsequent renovations under the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century.
Crafted from stone and brick, the gate stretches 46.5 meters from east to west, boasting 5 arched doors. The central door, standing at 4 meters in height and 2.7 meters in width, was exclusively reserved for the king. Doan Mon held a pivotal role in the ceremonial proceedings within the Thang Long Imperial Citadel during its historical era.
Kinh Thien Palace: Echoes of Royal Ceremonies
Kinh Thien Palace served as the distinguished venue for ceremonies, diplomatic receptions, and discussions on pivotal national matters within the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. While the palace is a significant surviving relic, only the ancient foundation and a pair of stone dragon steps remain as silent witnesses to its historical grandeur.
Constructed in 1467, the stone dragons comprise 9 steps each, measuring 20cm in height and 40cm in width, forming three distinct paths. The central path, reserved for the king, is flanked by two side paths designated for courtiers. A testament to the passage of over 550 years, these stone dragons exhibit raised heads, intricate horns with branching details, backward-curled manes, and gently contoured bodies. This invaluable artifact stands as a symbolic representation of cultural authority and enduring vitality.
Flag Tower: A Timeless Sentinel
The Flag Tower, also recognized as the Hanoi Flagpole, stands resilient against the ravages of both war and time. Soaring to a height of 33.4 meters, the tower boasts three floors and a central column. Within its structure, a spiral staircase with 54 steps ascends to the top, accompanied by 39 small rosette-shaped doors and 6 fan-shaped doors for light and ventilation. It was on October 10, 1954, that the red flag with a yellow star proudly unfurled atop the Hanoi Flagpole, marking a historic moment.
North Gate: Gateway to History
The North Gate of Thang Long Imperial Citadel, also known as Chinh Bac Mon, graces Phan Dinh Phung Street and was constructed in 1805. Above the main gate arch, a stone sign bearing the three Chinese characters “Chinh Bac Mon” is displayed, alongside two visible scars from cannonballs—a poignant reminder of the conflict with French colonial forces. Although established during the Nguyen Dynasty, layers of citadel relics from preceding dynasties envelop the gate’s foundation, affirming the continuity of Thang Long Imperial Citadel’s millennia-long history.
Hau Lau: The Elegance of Royalty
Hau Lau, or the Princess’s Floor, spans nearly 2,400 square meters and served as the residence for queens and princesses. Despite enduring significant damage by the 19th century, the French undertook renovations, restoring the building to its current state. Excavations at Hau Lau unearthed artifacts spanning from the 9th to the early 20th century, including ceramics from the Early Le Dynasty, remnants of an Early Le Dynasty wharf, and lotus foot stones from the Ly and Tran Dynasties.
Archaeological Relic Site 18 Hoang Dieu: Unveiling Layers of Time
Situated just 100 meters west of Kinh Thien Palace, the archaeological relic site at 18 Hoang Dieu has been the focal point of Vietnam’s largest archaeological excavation since December 2002.
The site has revealed a complex array of architectural relics and millions of artifacts, spanning from the Dai La dynasty, Dinh dynasty, Early Le dynasty, Ly and Tran dynasties to the Nguyen dynasty. As of December 2009, 168 relics have been identified, including architectural foundations, water wells, boundary wall remnants, and water culverts. The site also unveiled remains of ponds, streams, and lotus ponds from the Forbidden City, showcasing the meticulous planning and interconnected landscape of ancient Thang Long.
Countless relics, including architectural materials, ceramics, and metal objects, highlight cultural exchanges and influences from China, Japan, and West Asia during the era of Thang Long Imperial Citadel.
Thang Long Imperial Citadel Night Exploration: Deciphering History
Embark on a captivating journey with the Thang Long Imperial Citadel Night Tour, offering a distinctive experience that contrasts with daytime visits. Tailored for enthusiasts of puzzles and seekers of mysterious thrills, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel Decoding Night Tour is an immersive adventure.
Scheduled every Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m., this 90-minute nocturnal escapade beckons at a ticket price of 200,000 VND per person. Amidst the sacred ambiance steeped in the citadel’s millennia-long history, participants will engage in solving puzzles intertwined with relics and antiques spanning the Ly, Tran, and Le dynasties.
As part of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel Night Tour, witness the ancient surroundings come alive with performances by artists at the monument. Marvel at precious artifacts and antiques, and partake in the ceremonial act of offering incense to honor the memory of the emperor.
The tour’s pinnacle is the collective decoding of artifacts, an engaging process unfolding progressively throughout the journey. Those adept at unraveling the mysteries stand to receive a meaningful keepsake. Commencing at Doan Mon, the night’s exploration concludes with a visit to the 18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site, weaving together the threads of history in a memorable experience.
Conclusion for Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, Vietnam
In concluding a visit to the Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, Vietnam, one is left with a profound sense of awe and reverence for the rich tapestry of history woven within its ancient walls.
The Citadel stands not merely as an architectural marvel but as a living testament to over a thousand years of Vietnam’s cultural, political, and imperial legacy. As footsteps echo through the courtyards and along the stone paths, the intricate details of each dynasty’s reign unfold, creating a vivid panorama of the nation’s past.
From the solemn grandeur of Doan Mon Gate to the regal elegance of Kinh Thien Palace and the poignant scars at the North Gate, the site narrates the triumphs and tribulations of the Vietnamese people. The night tour, with its enigmatic puzzles and performances amidst the monument, adds an enchanting layer to the experience.
Thang Long Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, leaves indelible imprints, inviting visitors to connect with a heritage that transcends time and resonates with the heartbeat of a nation.
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