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Thang Long Citadel

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The sprawling grounds of the World Heritage-listed Thang Long Citadel are a palimpsest across which Hanoi’s history has been written and re-written. You can easily spend a few hours here exploring the grounds and the archaeological dig just across the road.





The citadel site has been a continuous seat of power for some 1,300 years. It most recently operated as a military base until it was opened to the public to mark the 1,000-year anniversary of Hanoi and its UNESCO World Heritage listing. Despite being sandwiched between four busy roads, the complex feels like an escape from the city. There are two sub-sections: the citadel grounds and buildings, plus the dig at 18 Hoang Dieu Street across the road.

Graduates celebrate in the main courtyard after you go through Doan Mon.  Photo taken in or around Thang Long Citadel, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Graduates celebrate in the main courtyard after you go through Doan Mon. Photo: Samantha Brown

The site was first used as the Dai Lai Citadel when the area, then known as Giao Chau, was under Chinese rule from the seventh to ninth centuries; foundations of wooden buildings, tools, furniture, wells and drainage ditches from this period have been found at the dig.

When the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225) shifted the capital of its empire from Hoa Lu to the Dai Lai Citadel, changing its name to Thang Long in 1010. They built a new citadel comprising a Forbidden City—home to the Emperor’s Palace—nested within two sets of walls. The area within the outer walls was known as Kinh Thanh (Imperial City), and the space within the second set of walls was Hoang Thanh, or the Imperial Citadel. The citadel remained here through dynasties over the next centuries, with additions including palaces, pavilions, towers, pagodas, temples and shrines.

Remains of pathways from the Ly So and Ly dynasties. Photo taken in or around Thang Long Citadel, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Remains of pathways from the Ly So and Ly dynasties. Photo: Samantha Brown

In 1805, when the capital was relocated to Hue, King Gia Long demolished the citadel and replaced it with one in French Vauban style, which he used when he travelled in the north, though he kept the Kinh Thanh Palace; it was pulled down in 1815 as its wooden columns had rotted. In 1897, the French demolished the citadel completely to make way for a modern quarter as they planned to build a new city. After 1954, the area became the head office of the ministry of defence and the commander-in-chief of the Vietnamese People’s Army ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Thang Long Citadel
Hoang Dieu St, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Tues-Sun 08:00-17:00
T: (04) 3734 5927 
[email protected]
http://www.hoangthanhthanglong.vn
Admission: 30,000 dong

Location map for Thang Long Citadel

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