Imperial Citadel of Thang Long (Hanoi, Vietnam)



The Thang Long Imperial Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty, marking the independence of the Dai Viet. It was constructed on the remains of a Chinese fortress dating from the 7th century, on drained land reclaimed from the Red River Delta in Hanoi. It was the centre of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. The Imperial Citadel buildings and the remains in the 18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site reflect a unique South-East Asian culture specific to the lower Red River Valley, at the crossroads between influences coming from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south.

Situated at the heart of Hanoi, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an outstanding place of interest not only for the capital city but also for the country as a whole. The site is one of the ten special national heritage sites proclaimed by the Prime Minister in 2009 and was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2010 and reopened in 2012, Hanoi's Imperial Citadel was the hub of Vietnamese military power for over 1000 years. Its Outstanding Universal Values are reflected in its historical longevity, its continuous role as a seat of power, and its multiple cultural layers.

The ancient site was the political centre of the country for 13 consecutive centuries and served as the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The central sector of the imperial citadel includes relics in Hanoi Citadels and an interesting archaeological area at 18 Hoang Dieu Street. Excavation work took place from 2002 to 2004 at the Thang Long Royal Citadel site and as a result many artifacts and items from the 6th to the 20th century belonging to the Ly, Nguyen, Tran, Le eras were found.

Foundations of old palaces, relics, ancient roads, ponds and wells were discovered and as a result the famous Hanoi Flag Tower on Dien Bien Phu Street in Ba Dinh District, a renovated old stone fortress, is popular with visitors. On top of these discoveries, archaeologists also found bronze coins, ceramics and pottery from China and many places in Asia, all of which demonstrate a close trading relationship in the area. Visitors should head for the display room that features interesting excavated items as well as mockups of the citadel itself.

History

In 1009, Ly Cong Uan was enthroned, founded Ly Dynasty. In July, 1010, the king promulgated Chieu Doi Do (the royal decree) to change the capital city from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Dai La Citadel. After transferring the capital city, Ly Cong Uan had Citadel of Thang Long built and the citadel construction was finished in early 1011.

The ancient Citadel of Thang Long was encircled by three incorporated forts. The outer fort was Kinh Thanh (Imperial City), where the general public lived. Surrounded by the Hong, To Lich and Kim Nguu rivers, Kinh Thanh acted as a dyke system for the capital city. The second fort (the middle ring) was Hoang Thanh (Imperial Citadel), where the royal court, offices and residence of mandarins were located. The smallest and most inner enclosure was Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden City) where the king, queens and concubines lived in seclusion. The Citadel of Thang Long was repaired and had many new works in Tran Dynasty and expanded in Le So Dynasty. From 1516 to 1788 in dynasties of Mac and Le Trung Hung, the Citadel of Thang Long was destroyed many times. In early 1789, King Quang Trung transferred the capital city to Phu Xuan, the Citadel of Thang Long only acted as Bac Thanh (the northern defensive fortification). In Nguyen Dynasty, the remainders of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long were transferred to Phu Xuan for building new citadel. Only Kinh Thien Palace and Hau Lau were retained to be accommodations for Kings Nguyen during their business trips to the Bac Thanh. In 1805, King Gia Long ordered the demolition of walls surrounding the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and requested the building of a new, smaller citadel called Ha Noi Citadel with architectural style of Vauban (France). In 1831, King Minh Mang changed name of the Citadel of Thang Long to Ha Noi Province in a big administrative reform. When French colonists occupied all Indochina, they chose Ha Noi as the capital of French Indochina Union and the Ha Noi Citadel was destroyed to build military camp for French colonists. Since the Vietnamese army took the control of the capital city in 1954, the Ha Noi Citadel has become the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense.  The first value of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi shows that it is nearly a book displaying over 10 century- history of Thang Long – Ha Noi from Dai La Citadel in Pre-Thang Long period to nowadays.

Location: Next to Ba Dinh Square, opposite the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and also near many important political buildings including the Vietnamese Presidential Palace.

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Address: 19C Hoang Dieu Street
More information: hoangthanhthanglong.vn
Opening hours: 8-11.30am daily & 2-4pm Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun
Entrance fee: 30,000 vnd/person/Free for children under 15 years old

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