Early Days of Hanoi
site of present-day Hanoi has been populated for at least 10,000
years, by tribes with different languages and cultures. Hanoi of
that time was largely submerged in the surrounding highlands where
the tribes were able to set up their homes. Those inhabitants formed
a feudally organized society that first relied on hunting, fishing
and gathering, later developing animal husbandry and agriculture.
Generations after generations they inherited their ancestors' customs
and beliefs and laid ground for the early days of Vietnamese culture.
Van Lang - Au Lac time
Dynasty reined Van Lang for as long as 18 generations. King Hungs
built their palaces in Phong Chau, Phu Tho. Hanoi during theHung
Dynasty was only a suburb of Phong Chau.
An Duong Vuong of Au Lac chose Co Loa (presently Dong Anh district,
Hanoi) as the capital. Although reining Au Lac only in a short period
of time, An Duong Vuong left to the next generations a valuable
treasure - the Co Loa citadel, which took the shape of a snail,
together with its many legacies. Since then Hanoi, known together
with its Co Loa citadel, has gone into history as the first political
and social centre of the Vietnamese nation.
fortification skills, the Au Lac tribes also excelled in inventing
and using bows and arrows for defence. Legend has it that An Duong
Vuong had a supernatural bow that could dispatch thousand of arrows
in one shoot. An Duong Vuong used the bow to drive away Trieu Da
(king of Nam Viet, China) in his many attempts to conquer Au Lac.
Thwarted by An Duong Vuong in battle fields, Trieu Da later got
hold of the bow making secret by arranging a marriage between his
son, Trong Thuy, with An Duong Vuong's daughter, My Chau, and asked
An Duong Vuong to allow Trong Thuy to stay with My Chau in the Au
Lac kingdom. An Duong Vuong accepted the proposal. My Chau later
naively passed the secret of bow making to Trong Thuy, who helped
his father to eventually defeat An Duong Vuong.
records that being chased by Trieu Da's army, An Duong Vuong and
his daughter were riding his horse for their lives. My Chau pinched
off the furs on her coat along the way, to help inform her husband
of their whereabouts. On discovering that his daughter had given
the enemy a hand, An Duong Vuong took out the sword to kill My Chau
before drowning himself in the sea of Dien Chau, Nghe An. Trong
Thuy arrived, discovering his wife's body, and committed suicide.
Tong Binh District during Northern Chinese Dependence
Lac kingdom was conquered and became a county of China. In the middle
of the 5th century, Hanoi was a county named Tong Binh. In 679 the
Duong dynasty of China established An Nam (today North Vietnam)
as its own land and chose Hanoi as the principal city of An Nam.
545, Ly Bi staged a revolt against the Chinese Liang dynasty, putting
up a castle by the To Lich river mouth. He based in Long Bien (a
north suburb of Hanoi).
808 a large castle named Dai La was built around Hanoi for military
purpose. However, the Dai La road built on top of the La Thanh bank
in Hanoi today does not deride directly from Dai La castle. La Thanh
bank and Dai La road are thought to be developed from the remains
of the castles during the Ly and Tran dynasties.
year 938 saw King Ngo Quyen winning the battle against the Han emperor
and Hanoi once again became the capital of the independent Vietnam.
Thang Long (Soaring Dragon) and the Ly dynasty
Ngo Quyen based his palace in Co Loa (suburb of Hanoi). He did not
rule the country for long. The Dinh and early Le dynasties had different
ideas for their palaces. Hoa Lu (presently Ninh Binh) was chosen
as the capital during the two dynasties: Dinh Bo Linh and Le Hoan.
1010, King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long
(Hanoi). According to ancient history, the king saw a vision of
a golden dragon ascending from the Hong river, and decided to change
Dai La to Thang Long (Ascending Dragon).
Ly dynasty was best remembered for the construction of many cultural
and historical sites such as Van Mieu, Quoc Tu Giam (National University),
Voi Phuc (Prostrating Elephant) temple, Quan Thanh pagoda, one-pillar
Mieu (Temple of Literature) was dedicated to Confucius, this temple
was built in 1070, according to the plans of the literary pagoda
of Kien Fou, village of origin of the wise old man. The temple is
surrounded by brick walls. Inside, the complex is separated into
five areas. The first area contains the main gate with the inscription
"Van Mieu Mon" (Disciple of Temple of Literature) and
two stone dragons in the style of the Le So Dynasty.
main path leads to Khue Van Cac (Pavilion of Literature). There
are also two small gates on both sides of Khue Van Cac. The third
section divides Khue Van from the Dai Thanh Mon (the Gate of Great
Synthesis), and contains a square lake, Thien Quang Tinh (the Well
of Heaven's Clarity), surrounded by walls. On both sides of the
well are pavilions full of stelae inscribed with the names of Ph.D
Tu Giam or School for the sons of the Nation was established in
1076 for the princes. The school later admitted sons of mandarins
and finally commoners were allowed to attend but, only after they
passed a rigorous examination at the regional level.
the time when Van Mieu was used as a school, Quoc Tu Giam housed
classrooms, housing facilities and a print shop. When the university
was moved to Hue, Quoc Tu Giam was turned into a shrine to Confucius'
parents called Khai Thanh.
Mot Cot (One-Pillar Pagoda) was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong who
ruled from 1028-1054. According to folklore, the emperor met the
Goddess of Mercy who was seated on a lotus flower in his dream.
In the dream, the Goddess handed him a male child. The emperor later
met and married a peasant who subsequently bore him a son. This
One-pillar pagoda was built in gratitude. The original pagoda was
destroyed by the French but was later rebuilt by the new government.
It is made of wood, standing on a single stone pillar designed to
resemble a lotus blossom.
Old Quarter (the 36 Streets) and the Tran Dynasty
Old Quarter began to acquire its reputation as a crafts area in
the 11th century when King Ly Thai To built his palace there. In
the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages
which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives,
or guilds. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan
guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village
and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and
lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise
to the designated streets in the business quarter.
between the Lake of the Restored Sword, the Long Bien Bridge, a
former city rampart, and a citadel wall, the Old Quarter started
as a snake and alligator-infested swamp. A majority of the street
names here start with Hang, which means merchandise or shop. The
guild streets were named for their products or locations. For example,
skilled silversmiths from Hai Hung province now occupy Hang Bac
Street, one of the most ancient streets in all Vietnam. Each guild
had its own patron saint to which many local temples are dedicated.
Hang Bong Street has five such temples.
Because inhabitants of each street came from the same village, streets
developed a homogeneous look. Commoners' homes evolved out of market
stalls, before streets were formed. Because storekeepers were taxed
according to the width of their storefront, storage and living space
moved to the rear of the buildings. Consequently, the long and narrow
buildings were called "tube houses." Typical measurements
for such houses are 3 meters wide by 60 meters long.
The Old Quarter has a rich religious heritage. When the craftsmen
moved from outlying villages into the capital, they brought with
them their religious practices. They transferred their temples,
pagodas and communal houses to their new locations. Each guild has
one or two religious structures and honours its own patron saint
or founder. Therefore, on each street in the Old Quarter there is
at least one temple. Now, many of the old temples in the Old Quarter
have been transformed into shops and living quarters, but some of
the old buildings' religious roots can still be recognized by the
architecture of their roofs.
When streets were later developed, the guild names were applied
to the streets. Thang Long was also known as 'Ke Cho' (Market Place)
as it housed many of trading streets. Some streets have achieved
fame by their inclusion in popular guidebooks. Hang Gai Street offers
silk clothing ready-made and tailored, embroidery, and silver products.
Hang Quat, the street that formerly sold silk and feather fans.
To Thinh Street connects the above two and is still the wood turner's
street. Hang Ma glimmers with shiny paper products, such as gift
wrappings, wedding decorations and miniature paper objects to burn
for the dead. Lan Ong Street is a sensual delight of textures and
smells emanating from the sacks of herbal medicinal products: leaves,
roots, barks, and powders.
- Bat Dan
- Bat Su
- Cha Ca
- Chan Cam
- Cho Gao
- Gia Ngu
7 - Hai Tuong
- Hang Bac
- Hang Be
Tran Dynasty (1225-1400) built hundreds of royal palaces and monuments,
temples and residences, elegant and luxurious in Thang Long. During
the wars against the Mongols, Thang Long was the rendezvous of the
landmark Dien Hong National Conference. In 1257, 1284, and 1287,
the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan sacked the capital on each occasion,
only to find that the Vietnamese had anticipated their attacks and
evacuated the city beforehand.
fourteenth century was marked by wars with Champa, which the Tran
reduced to a feudatory state by 1312. Champa freed itself again
by 1326 and, under the leadership of Cham hero Che Bong Nga, staged
a series of attacks on Vietnam between 1360 and 1390, sacking Thang
Long in 1371. The Vietnamese again gained the upper hand following
the death of Che Bong Nga in battle in 1382
City of Thang Long and the Le dynasty
Quy Ly dethroned the Tran dynasty and ruled Vietnam between 1400
and 1407. He chose Tay Do (Thanh Hoa at present) as the capital.
Thang Long under the Ho dynasty was renamed twice: Dong Do (Eastern
Capital) and Dong Quan (Eastern District), before and during the
invasion of the Chinese Minh Dynasty.
1428, 24 years after the Minh conquered Vietnam, Le Loi liberated
Vietnam and came to the thrown. Dong Do was renamed Dong Kinh (Eastern
Citadel). In 1459, King Le Thanh Ton extended the Hoang Thanh (Royal
Citadel) 8 miles in length. A rectangular castle inside the Hoang
Thanh was built and named Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel). The Heavenly
Palace was built under the reign of King Le Thai To on the top of
Nung Hill was where the former of the Can Nguyen and Thien An palaces
were located during the Ly and Tran dynasties.
1512, King Le Tuong Duc, infamous for his intemperance and profligacy,
commissioned the then talented architect Vu Nhu To to build more
than 100 palace roofs with steps atop and a tower called Cuu Trung
Dai (Nine-Storeyed Tower). The tower was later destroyed by peasant
uprisings. In 1514, the king continued to expand Hoang Thanh several
thousand truongs further (1 truong=3.6m). The east side met
Hang Cot, Hang Dieu and Hang Da. The north side reached today Hoang
Hoa Tham street. Towards the west the palace extended to the present
1460-1497 Thang Long saw LE THANH TONG as a great king with strong
nationalism. He issued the HONG DUC LAWS, the first national laws
in Vietnamese history. He also created the TAO DAN GROUP of 28 best
poets that contributed a great number of excellent literature works.
Thang Long during the Trinh-Nguyen struggle for power
Long during the Mac dynasty (1527-1592) experienced multiple destructions
under fractional fighting for power. Palaces, warehouses, streets
were repeatedly set fire and destroyed. The Royal Citadel was left
in emptiness and destruction for many years. In 1585, Mac Mau Hop,
returned to Thang Long and reconstructed the Royal Citadel to guard
off lord Trinh's attacks. The citadel became smaller, several palaces
were left unused and decayed. However, the citadel was wider than
that of the Ly-Tran dynasties, and still wider than Hanoi as a province
under the Nguyen dynasty.
1592, Lord Trinh killed Mac Mau Hop and helped King Le The Tong
return to Thang Long. Lord Trinh reconstructed the Royal Citadel
for King Le to reside and built his own mansion outside the citadel.
Lord Trinh's mansion subsequently became the central governmental building with many extravagant and splendid buildings such as: Ngu
Long Cupola (east of Sword Lake), Ta Vong Temple, Thuy Khanh Palace
(on today's Ngoc Son island). In 1728 lord Trinh Giang also built
tunnels south of the Sword Lake with the intention of constructing
a underground palace.
politically unrest, Thang Long this period still saw the peak of
economic and cultural progresses. The sprawling of market places
facilitated trading and booted population in the cities. Nguyen
Binh Khiem and Phung Khac Khoan were two great intellectuals of this
time. Interestingly, among many PhD graduates, this period produced
a female Tran Thi Due. By the 17th century Thang Long could also
count an increasing number of business premises belong to traders
from England, Holand and China.
Long during the Tay Son dynasty
the summer of 1786, the Tay Son army advanced north into Thang Long
and overthrew the Trinh lord. On the day of 21st July 1786, the
Tay Son army took control of Thang Long. The capital saw the extraordinary
wedding of Nguyen Hue, the Tay Son leader, and the princess Ngoc
Han of Thang Long. After the marriage Nguyen Hue and Ngoc Han returned
south, leaving the north of the country to King Le Chieu Thong.
the end of 1788 King Le Chieu Thong went to China asking for military
help and on 16th December 1788, a Chinese army of 290.000 soldiers
invaded Vietnam. On hearing the news, Nguyen Hue crowned himself
King Quang Trung and promptly moved north. In the beginning of 1789,
King Quang Trung defeated the Chinese army. In the Ngoc Hoi - Dong
Da battle, King Quang Trung himself led the army to victory over
the Chinese and victoriously entered Thang Long. After the victory,
Quang Trung only left a small part of his army in Thang Long, with
the most coming back to Phu Xuan (Hue). Under King Quang Trung,
Thang Long was only a principal city of the northern land, while
Hue became the capital of Vietnam.
Long during the Nguyen dynasty
govern the northern of Vietnam, the Nguyen dynasty rebuilt the Thang
Long citadel. Thang Long became smaller compared to previous dynasties.
The citadel followed a French architecture, square in shape, 1 km
each side, perimeter of about 1285 truongs (1 truong = 3.6
m). The citadel wall was 4 truongs thick and 5 m high, with
5 entrances: North, East, West, South West and South East.
Flag Tower was built between 1805 and 1812 with a height of over
40m. It consists of an octagonal pedestal and a roof with the flag
pole on a grand three-step staircase.
Inner Palace was known as the Palace of the Princesses.
Having been built in the architectural style of the Nguyen dynasty,
it was renovated during the period of the French domination. It
was the vest home for the imperial maids who accompanied the King
during his travels in Northern Vietnam.
barracks were positioned outside the citadel, while residents lived
further outwards. The outermost of Hanoi citadel has the perimeter
of 16 km, with 16 entrances where people from all areas around can
1831, King Nguyen continued to narrow Thang Long further and it
became the Hanoi province. Many cultural sites experienced changes:
Quoc Tu Giam (National University) was moved to Hue, schools where
exams were organized became entertaining places. Since then Thang
Long has gone into the national history with a new name: Ha Noi.
and the French colonism
1867 south Vietnam was a French colony. Hanoi was captured in 1874.
The dramatic fall of Hanoi citadel accompanied by the suicide of
the patriotic general in charge of its defence, governor Hoang Dieu.
The impotent imperial court was allowed to remain, indulging itself
in various coups and capers, but the French controlled the nation.
1882 The French sent naval officer Henri Riviere on an expedition
to the northern Vietnam on the pretext of securing the Hanoi
area for trade purposes. While there, Riviere was given the
authority to capture the Hanoi. When he attempted to do this
in 1883 with limited forces, he was defeated and killed. In
response to the killing of Riviere, France sent Admiral Courbet
and his fleet to northern Vietnam to deal with the northern
conquering Hanoi, the French quickly set up their own governing
system there. In 1901, they built Thong Su government building,
post offices, courts, horse racing tracks, Dong Khanh street,
Gia Long street, and a number of churches and factories.
Village Board of Governors
1897 as the number of French nationals coming to Vietnam for businesses
were increasing, many new buildings and subordinate developments
were built up to support foreign trading. After the first world
war, the French sped up their exploitation of Indochina, and Hanoi
saw many changes with more workers arriving in the city looking
since the August Revolution
September 1940, Japanese army entered Hanoi to mark a period when
Hanoi people were harshly ruled by both the French and the Japanese.
Living costs quickly increased, new taxes were introduced and Vietnamese
peasants were forced by the Japanese to root up rice for planting
jute, all of which eventually led to the death of two million northern
Vietnamese with Hanoi becoming a shared graveyard for many people
dying of starvation.
15th August 1945 the Japanese surrendered to the alliance. The Vietnamese
Communist Party (VCP) seized the opportunity to begin a revolution
- the August Revolution. Within two days all state departments were
brought to a hall and on 19th August 1945 Hanoi people staged a demonstration
to take control of Bac Bo Phu (northern government building),
Secret Police Office and Security Service Camp. The August Revolution
ended more than 80 years of French colonism on Vietnam only within
10 days. On 2nd September 1945, Hanoi saw a sea of elated crowd
gathering on the Badinh Square to listen to president Ho Chi Minh
reading out the Declaration For Independence of Vietnam.
the French attacked and occupied Vietnam (1946-1945), the Hanoi
Defend Regiment withdrew from the capital while all other liberating
units were still active in factories, streets and markets. The most
noticeable sights of Hanoi resistance against the occupying French
were the student demonstration against the assassination of student
Tran Van Son by the French force and its Vietnamese henchmen in
Saigon, the battle of the Bach Mai and Gia Lam airports.
the American war, Hanoi defied the power of American air force in
12 days and nights of the Christmas bombing by American B52 warplanes
in December 1972, with America intending to bring Vietnam back to
the Stone Age. Ironically, with 358 airplanes being shot down in
years of the war and many pilots imprisoned, Hanoi brought Washington
back to the negotiating table and gained upper hand in securing
a Paris Peace Accord in which America accepted all but in word defeat
in the war against the will of Vietnamese people for the independence
of their own country.
famous Cha Ca La Vong restaurant today
present Hanoi has a population of around 3 million. The city is
administratively divided into 9 inner and 5 outer districts. For
almost a millennium Hanoi has been up and down in its history, but
today Hanoi has become a city of peace and friendliness. In 1999
UNESCO recognized Hanoi as 'the city of peace' in Asia and the Ocean