Central Sector Of The Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long Ha Noi (World Cultural Heritage)

The central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Ha Noi covers area of 20ha, includes archaeological area at 18 Hoang Dieu Street and relics in Ha Noi Citadel such as: Bac Mon, Doan Mon, Hau Lau, stone dragons in Kinh Thien Palace, dragon house, house D67 and Ha Noi flag tower. These relics are surrounded by 4 streets: Phan Dinh Phung Street in the north, Dien Bien Phu Street in the south, Nguyen Tri Phuong Street in the east and Hoang Dieu Street in the west.


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.

Archaeological value

History revealed that Imperial Citadel of Thang Long changed a lot but its centre, especially Forbidden City, remained nearly unchanged. As architectural structures inside the Imperial Citadel were rebuilt and upgraded several times, this explained for the findings of layers of architectural vestiges and artefacts at archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu.

These vestiges reflect clearly relation between urban project and architectural space as well as succession of dynasties in building the Citadel of Thang Long. This is the unique and prominent value of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Ha Noi.

Here, archaeologists excavated a great deal of porcelain and ceramic wares used in the Imperial Citadel through various stages of development. The findings paved the way for researchers to study ceramics made in Thang Long and ceramic wares used in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long through different dynasties.

It is also concrete evidence about high development level of economy and culture. In addition, porcelains and bronze coins of China, Japan, and Western Asia… found here proved that Thang Long was centre of cultural exchange among countries in area and received quintessence values of humanity

At 20h30 on July 30, 2010 in Brasilia Capital of Brazil, World Heritage Committee of UNESCO recognized the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Ha Noi as world cultural heritage based on three prominent criterions: historical and cultural length; its continuousness as a power centre; diversification and plenty of vestiges and artifacts.

In opening ceremony of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long - Ha Noi on October 1, 2010, Ms Irina Bokova - General Director of UNESCO gave certification of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Ha Noi to leaders of Ha Noi City.

The Temple Honoring The Kings of Ly Dynasty

 "The architecture of the Do Temple is marvelous,
Worthy to the thousand-year-old history of Thang Long"

The meaningful verses highly praised the architecture of Do Temple, which is in honor of the eight Kings of Ly Dynasty (1009-1225) in Vietnamese history.

Located in Dinh Bang Village in Tu Son District of Bac Ninh Province, 20 kilometers from Hanoi, Do Temple or Ly Bat De Temple plays an important role in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people.

According to Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu, a famous book about Vietnamese history written by many generations of Vietnamese historians in the feudal time, Do Temple was built in 1019 by the first king of the Ly Dynasty, Ly Cong Uan or Ly Thai To and was enlarged by his son Ly Thai Tong in 1030. The temple was used by Ly Thai To to meet the people to ask about their opinions on plans to safeguard the country.

The Temple was built on an elevated area of land of 31,250 square meters. It is surrounded by high walls and more than 20 architectural works and is divided to two parts: inner city and outer city.

Access to the inner city is through the Ngu Long (five dragons) gate, which is skillfully carved, and then to Tien Te House, the shrine to worship the first king.

Hanging on the left side of the shrine is the royal proclamation of the moving of the capital city from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (Hanoi) of King Ly Cong Uan. The proclamation has 214 words corresponding to 214 years of rule by the eight Ly kings. The 180 square-meter Co Phap Dien shrine is the site of many relics including ancestral altars, the thrones and the statues of the eight kings and a shrine to worship the kings’ wives, among others.

In the outer city is a half-moon shaped lake with a floating pavilion and Van chi and Vo chi houses. The lake and the floating pavilion, on an area of 9,500 square meters, served as a place for the mandarins to watch water puppetry.

An image of this architectural construction was printed on the banknotes of the Bank of Indochina. Van chi and Vo chi houses are places to worship the civil mandarins (Van chi) and military mandarins (Vo chi) who are greatly respected by the country.

In front of the Temple lies a semi-circular lake, with clear and full water all the year round. The lake is connected with two ponds at both ends of the village, with the Tieu Tuong River in front of the village.

In the center of the lake stands a square house reserved for water puppetry performances with two beautiful tiered roofs. To the south of the lake, there is a huge pavilion to preserve stone slabs inscribed with the merits of the eight kings of Ly Dynasty, and to the north of the lake, a 5-compartment floating house for visitors to take a rest.

The Temple's gate includes five doors made of hard wooden plates assembled together and carved on top images of dragons waiting upon the moon. When the door opens, its two leaves are wide apart, and the two dragons on top of the doors seem to be soaring.

On day, the dragons' eyes when catching the light shine like gemstones. Along the three-step staircase, are carved two stone dragons with clouds around, on a green stone floor, symbolizing the Thang Long (Soaring Dragon) Capital.

A traditional Do Temple Festival annually celebrated by the locals on the 15th, 16th and 17th day of the third lunar month to commemorate the coronation of Ly Cong Uan attracts thousands of pilgrims, who expressed the spirit of the Vietnamese, i.e. "when drinking the water, think of its source"...

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