"Thang Long" (Soaring Dragon) was the historical name of Hanoi. The Imperial Citadel is the symbol of Hanoi and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 600 the Chinese built the fortress "Dai La". In 938 the Chinese were expelled by the vietnamese. In 1010 emperor "Ly Thai To" built the Citadel as his center of power. Within the wals, there was a "Forbidden City" with palaces and gardens. In 1406 the citadel was conquered by the Chinese, and the vietnamese center of power shifted to Hue.
The "Bach Ma Temple" (White Horse Temple) is the oldest temple in Hanoi. According to the legend, a white horse showed the right place for the construction of the city wall, which collapsed several times before. In return, this temple was built. In Chinese Buddhism the "white horse" is a symbol of purity and loyalty. The first Buddhist temple in China, (near Luoyang) is also called "the White Horse Temple" (Bai Ma Si).
The houses in the old town of Hanoi stand on narrow plots. A few historic buildings have been preserved and give an insight into the traditional architecture of Hanoi. Several low-rise buildings with courtyards, lined up one behind the other. The courtyards are beautifully designed and often decorated with precious reliefs, as here in the "Thang Long Catru Theatre".
The market hall "Cho Dong Xuan" has a historical front, behind the facade there is a modern concrete building. The interior is dimly lit and is not very interesting. Nevertheless, the area around the market is quite interesting. Fish, meat, fruits, vegetables and flowers are sold on the street. Also exotic "delicacies" like turtles are sold, eating them promises a long life.
One of the most beautiful historic houses in the old town of Hanoi is the "Memorial House". From the outside rather inconspicuous, the wooden house reveals beautiful rooms on two floors. The rooms are furnished with historic furniture and show the living conditions in the old town of Hanoi. On the ground floor is a shop selling handicrafts from the region.
Hanoi city center is located on the northern edge of Hoan Kiem Lake. Here the lake meets the bustling old town of Hanoi. By day, the roundabout is the transportation hub of the capital, at night the lights go on and make the square a bustling place for night owls.
One of the main attractions of Vietnam is a visit of a Water Puppet Theater. The puppeteers stand behind a curtain in the water and steer the figures over long bamboo poles. The "Thang Long Water Puppet Theater" is located right on Hoan Kiem Lake. It is a cultural institution of Hanoi and tours all over the world.
Den Ngoc Son (Jade Mountain Temple) stands on an island in Hoan Kiem Lake. The Confucian-Daoist Temple is also dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, the general who prevented the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. At the entrance of the temple is a relief of the turtle that brought the magic sword to Le Loi.
The red arch bridge "Cao The Huc" (Sunlight Greeting Bridge) connects the mainland with the "Jade Island" in Hoan Kiem Lake. On the Jade Island stands the Jadehill Temple "Den Ngoc Son". At both ends of the bridge are gatehouses. The red wooden bridge is one of the famous landmarks of Hanoi.
The turtle tower "Thap Rua" has a nice story. The Legend tells that a golden turtle gave fisherman Le Loi a magic sword, with which Le Loi drove the Chinese out of Vietnam. Le Loi was made king and went to the lake to thank the gods. Then the turtle appeared and demanded the sword back. The sword turned into a jade dragon and disappeared into the lake. Le Loi built the tower Thap Rua for the golden turtle.
Ly Thai To was the king of "Dai Co Viet", an empire that ruled the north of Vietnam. He moved his capital from Hoa Lu to Hanoi in the year 1010. The Vietnamese therefore consider him as the founder of Hanoi. However, there has been a Chinese fortress called "Dai La" long time before Ly Thai To. Because he saw a yellow dragon rising from the Red River, Ly Thai To named his new capital "Thang Long" (ascending dragon).
The "Trang Tien" street is the center of the "French Quarter". From 1883 to 1954 Vietnam was a French colony. The French built their town south of Hoan Kiem Lake. The department store "Trang Tien Plaza" looks French, but was opened in 2001. In the lower floors there are various shops, on the 3rd floor there is a supermarket on the 4th floor, there are restaurants.
The opera was opened by the French colonial administration in 1911. It was one of the most beautiful colonial buildings in all of Indochina. After independence, the building was used as the "Nha Hat Lon" House of Songs. Later, theater groups from other socialist states entered this stage. In 1994 the Hanoi Opera House was completely modernized and resplendent in its former glory.
The "Temple of Literature" was built in 1070 and is considered the oldest building in the city. It is dedicated to the Chinese philosopher and state theorist "Confucius". The temple is popular among students who pray for good grades. On turtle stalls are names of famous scholars. The Van Mieu Temple is one of the most famous sights with with 3 spacious courtyards.
The "flag tower" in the center of the city belongs to the citadel and is a national symbol. The Vietnamese flag defiantly blows on the spire, indicating that Vietnam will never submit. You can climb onto the terrace and enjoy the view on the citadel and the war museum.
Next to the military museum is an area where war remains are exhibited. The wreckage of downed aircrafts was piled up on a hill of rubble. Next to it are well-preserved helicopters, tanks, and other war vehicles of the defeated American forces.
The National Assembly is the parliament of Vietnam. The deputies elect the president, the prime minister and the government. The building was completed in 2014. The German architects Gerkan, Marg and Partner design the building.
The great leader "Ho Chi Minh" rests in this monumental mausoleum, which was built in 1975. Ho Chi Minh, who died in 1969, actually wanted to be burned and his ashes should have been distributed throughout the country to promote the unity of Vietnam. His successors had something else in mind.
The one-pillar pagoda "Chua Mot Cot" was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong in gratitude to the goddess of mercy "Quan Am". She had given him a son in the dream. He took a new wife and she gave birth to a son. The One Pillar Pagoda was erected in 1049 symbolizing a lotus flower. The pagoda has been destroyed several times but was always rebuilt.
The "Chua Tran Quoc" Pagoda is located on the peninsula "Golden Fish" in the "Tay Ho" West Lake. The Buddhist pagoda is considered one of the oldest in Vietnam. However, it was relocated in 1615, to be save from the floods of the Red River. The temple complex is decorated with a lot of lotus ornaments, the Buddhist symbol of purity of mind, language and body.
Welcome to Hanoi
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the second largest city in the country after Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) with its 6.5 million inhabitants. Hanoi consists of three different areas within the city center. There is the lively old town with many restaurants and small shops, the center of the French colonial power and the government district with parliament and "Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum". The city center is located on the northern shore of the Hoan Kiem Lake.