Hanoi city


Although the site had been inhabited before, Hanoi's development began when Emperor Ly Thai To moved the capital there in 1010 (One-pillar pagoda and the Temple of the Literature date from that period). Hanoi continued to serve as a capital until 1788, when the Le dynasty was overthrown, after which Emperor Gia Long moved the capital to Hue. From 1902 to 1953, Hanoi was the capital of French Indochina. After 1954, Hanoi became the capital of North Vietnam, and following the 1975 events it became the capital of the unified country.
Hanoi is considered as one of Asia's most fascinating cities with a unique blend of oriental and western charm. The French colonial legacy is still evident in many parts of Vietnam including Hanoi, illustrated by the distinctive yellow pastel colored villas and government buildings. The Opera House and the History Museum are fine examples of these architectural legacies. Of the four great post colonial Indochina's cities, Hanoi is by far the greenest and most beautiful with elegant tree-lined boulevards and many.
The city's special charm is also found in its traditional pagodas and temples, along narrow streets filled with vendors and beside quiet, reflecting tranquil lakes. Like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi also has some great shopping, particularly in the Old Quarter where bargains include silk, embroidery, handicrafts and original works of art.

Sights to be seen in Hanoi include Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoan Kiem Lake (known in English as the Lake of the Restored Sword), the Old Quarter, the Temple of Literature, the Opera House, the History Museum, the Fine Arts Museum and the One Pillar Pagoda. Another must in Hanoi is a visit to a water puppet performance.

Temple of Literature

This is a famous cultural and historical relic, a pleasant retreat from the streets of Hanoi. The temple was built in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, who dedicated it to Confucius (in Vietnamese, Khong Tu) in order to honor scholars and men of literary accomplishment. The temple constitutes a rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture and is well worth a visit. In 1076, the Vietnam’s first university was established here to educate sons of mandarins. In front of the rectangular yard lined with 82 stone steal, considered as the most precious artifacts in the temple, carved with the names of the doctors of philosophy who passed the king's examination from 1498 to 1787. In 1802, King Gia Long (Nguyen Dynasty) transferred the National University to his new capital Hue. Major renovations were carried out in 1920 and 1956

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The mausoleum that was inaugurated in 1975 is the permanent memorial for President Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It is 21 m high and in Vietnamese grey marble and granite. In shape of a lotus flower it was erected right at the historical place of Ba Dinh where President Ho Chi Minh declared the independence for Vietnam in 1945. The mausoleum is closed for three months a year (usually from 5 September to early December). Photography is permitted outside the building but not inside. All visitors must register and leave their bags and cameras at a reception hall.
Adjacent to the Mausoleum, in the large garden behind the Presidential Palace situated a house on stills hidden among green trees. This is the house where President Ho Chi Minh lived and worked since May 17, 1958 until his death in 1969.

Ho Chi Minh former residence

This house on stilts, where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1958 to 1969, illustrates the importance of simplicity and modesty to this Vietnamese revolutionary. (Contrast, for example, the nearby Presidential Palace, a colonial building, erected for the General Governor of Indochina.) Still, the building is elegantly crafted with lacquered and polished wood, following the model of a traditional communal house on stilts.
Although there are only a few rooms, they are all filled with wind and fragrance from the surrounding garden. The two upstairs rooms are a study and bedroom while the ground floor level contains a meeting table. The carp pond provided opportunities for fishing

One Pillar pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda is the lotus flower-shaped temple first built in 1049. Legends said that King Ly Thai To did not have any sons. One night the Goddess of Mercy in his dream sitting on a lotus gave him a son. Later he married a young country girl and had a successor. The king thanked the Goddess of Mercy by building this pagoda in the form of a lotus. The whole pagoda is fixed on a stone pillar 1.25 meters in diameter in the middle of a square pond (a sacred place of prayer), which stands for a blossoming lotus. With this rather original architecture style, the pagoda ranks among the unusual architectural works in Vietnam.

West Lake

West Lake is also called Ho Tay, is the biggest lake in central Hanoi, covering 500 ha in Tay ho district. In reality, the lake was created when the Red River overflowed its banks. Indeed, the Red River has changed its course numerous times, alternately floating some areas and causing silt built up (which creates new land). The flood problem has been partially controlled by building dikes.
The lake was once ringed with magnificent palaces and pavilions which are the resort of kings and mandarins. They were destroyed in the course of various feudal wars. 17 km path around the lake leads to the old villages of ancient Hanoi including the flower villages of Quang Ba, Nhat Tan..

Quan Thanh temple

Quan Thanh Temple is dedicated to the Saint Tran Vu of Vietnam. The temple was built during the reign of Ly Thai To King (1010 - 1028). In the 18th century, the temple was renovated and the statue of Tran Vu was cast in bronze. This statue is 3.4m tall and 4 tons heavy, and placed inside the temple. A small black bronze statue of Old Trong, the chief artisan of the bronze casting team who made both the giant statue of Saint Tran Vu and the bell, is also found in the temple. 

Tran Quoc pagoda

Tran Quoc pagoda sits on an island in the West Lake.  It was supposedly founded 1,400 years ago by King Ly Nam De with the name Khai Quoc (National Founder). The pagoda originally sat on the bank of the Red River but was moved to the present site during the reign of King Le Anh Tong (1600-1618) and renamed Tran Quoc (National Defense). The island and pagoda provide a beautiful backdrop, particularly when viewed at sunset. Visitors must be decently attired and long trousers are required for men.

Hoa Lo historical vestige

This vestige is located in Hoa Lo street. It used to belong to Hoa Lo Prison - built by the French in 1896 to detain up communist prisoners. Hoa Lo also affectionately referred to as the "Hanoi Hilton" by the US POWs during the American War. All related to this period are being well preserved.

Army Museum

The building was formerly the French expeditionary barracks. Since 1959, it was used as the Vietnam Army Museum. The well - known ancient monument - Hanoi Flag Tower is right on the grounds of the museum. The construction of the Tower started in 1805 and was completed in 1812, with a height of nearly 31 meters and a circumstance of 180 meters.

The Army Museum offers a lively and attractive history of the Vietnamese people's armed forces under the leadership of Vietnam's communist party and of president Ho Chi Minh. Thousands of exhibits, photographs, maps, scale models... are in the museum. This'll give visitors a good general knowledge of the process of the birth, growth and victories of the Vietnamese people's armed forces for the cause of peace, independence and freedom.

History Museum

This was once the museum of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient - one of the finest French architecture remains. Designed by a French architect, this museum is usually defined as "Neo-Vietnamese" in style-a combination of Vietnamese palace and French villa. The golden color (often with dark green shutters) is common in French colonial buildings in Vietnam. Exhibits is a rich collection of pre-historical objects and periods of building the country: Prehistoric times with the items date back mainly from the Paleolithic and the Neolithic Ages; the civilization of the ancient Viet people at the time of the nation founded within many impressive bronze drums of the Dong Son era are still preserved; The enduring struggle for national independence and sovereignty from the 1st to the 10th century are reflected in many historical artifacts associated with uprisings against foreign invaders; The history of the period of independence and feudalism which lasted from the 10th to the 19th are represented by many valuable collections. The last part of the exhibit relates the victory of the August 1945 Revolution.

Ethnology Museum

The Ethnological Museum keeps archives of 10.000 objects, 15,000 black and white photos, hundreds of video tapes, cassette tapes that reflect all aspects of life, activities, customs, and habits of 54 peoples all over Vietnam. The most unique thing of the Ethnological Museum is to recreate successfully the daily life activities together with the religious ritual, the symbolized festivals of each ethnic group in Vietnam. The Ethnological Museum's interior was decorated in a chain and reasonably arrangement that lead visitors to every region of the country with their own special culture. For example, the houses - on - stills of the Muong people, Tay people are very different from the ones of Thai people and Thuong people. The brocade of each ethnic group is different in color and designs.

Water Puppet Show

Vietnamese water puppetry has a long history. It was invented during Ly Dynasty (1009 - 1225). This is a unique art which has it origin in the delta of the Red river in the tenth century. The farmers in this region devised a form of entertainment using what natural medium they can find in their environment. In ancient times, the ponds and the rice paddies after harvest were the stage for these impromptu shows. This art form is unique to North Vietnam and only finds its way to the world stage in recent years as a result of the normalized relation with the West. Today the Thang Long puppet troupe is the most well known in Ha Noi

Modern, water puppetry is performed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. The puppeteers stand behind a screen and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. The puppets are carved out of wood and often weigh up to 15 kg. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. Singers of Cheo (a form of opera) with origin in north Vietnam sing songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets

The theme of the skits is rural and has a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. It tells of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told by grandparents to their grandchildren. Stories of the harvest, of fishing and of festivals are highlighted. Legends and national history are also told through short skits. Many of the skits, especially those involving the tales of day-to-day living, often have a humorous twist

Cylco tour

The cyclo (xich lo) or Pedi cab offer easy, cheep and aesthetic transportation around Vietnam's confusing, sprawling cities. Riding these clever contraptions will also give you the moral superiority that comes with knowing you are being kind to the environment - much kinder than al those drivers on whining, smoke-spewing motorbike.

 The Old Quarter

The Old Quarter covers an area of 100 ha, just north of the central Hoan Kiem Lake. The original 36 streets that make up the Old Quarter are named after the goods once sold there such as silk, paper, silver, copper, herbs, cotton, fish and chicken...These street names all begin with the Word "Hang" - in Vietnamese means merchandise: Hang Gai  - Silk Street, Hang Duong - sugar street, Hang Ma - Paper street... The very symbolic street is Hang Thiec (Tin Street) where the deafening sound of hammers striking tin plates is heard all day long. Hanoi's Old Quarter bears not just the cultural values of the capital, but the historical one of a 1,000 year old capital. The Old Quarter's character lies in its architecture, with "tube-shaped house" (narrow in width, but long and deep behind). They now become the long, narrow shop houses which sometimes end on another street. From ancient time till now, the Old Quarter has been the most crowded and busiest area in Hanoi. According to a recent survey, there are now 15,270 house-holds living in the Old Quarter, with over 66,000 residents.

Right in the heart of the Old Quarter lies Dong Xuan Market which is already over 100 years old. This is the biggest market in Hanoi so far.

Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son temple

Just to the south of the bustling Old Quarter streets, is an oasis of calm right in the centre of the city. This is an enchanting body of water right in the heart of Hanoi. Legend has it that in the mid-15th century, King Le Loi found a sword which he used to defend the country against the Chinese Mind's domination. One day after the war, when he was sailing on Green Water Lake, a giant golden turtle emerged and moving toward the boat. The King pointed the sword at the turtle which then held it in its mouth and disappeared in the depth of the lake. King Le Loi then renamed the lake Hoan Kiem (Lake of the Restored Sword) because he derived that the sword was given to him by the Heaven for the sole purpose of fighting the enemy, now the mission has been accomplished and peace is restored, the sword is returned to its divine owners - the Heaven.

Several of the capital's finest colonial buildings can be found in the area of Hoan Kiem Lake including the magnificent Opera House, History Museum and the Metropole Hotel. This small lake is nicely bordered by age - old trees. In the extreme north is an islet accessible by a wooden bridge painted red. On this islet located the small temple of Ngoc Son which is dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao, a hero who defeated the Mongolians in the 13th century and La To, patron saint of physicians. In the middle of the lake is the tortoise tower considered as the contemporary symbol of Hanoi.

Hanoi Opera House

The construction of Hanoi Opera House started in 1901 and was completed in 1911. It was designed by architects Broger and Harloy and was the first opera house in Hanoi. The theater was carefully constructed according to European standards. With a seating capacity of 900, the Hanoi Opera House is a cultural and artistic building of great importance. 
In 1997, with the aid of the French government, the theater was repaired in accordance with it s original design. Now, it is home to various performances with the best technical equipment.

Sain Joshep Cathedral

The Cathedral was inaugurated on Christmas Day in 1886 after two years of construction. This cathedral, in Gothic Revival style, is on the site of a former pagoda, razed by the French colonists.