Situated at the heart of Hanoi, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an outstanding place of interest not only for the capital city but also for the country as a whole. The site is one of the ten special national heritage sites proclaimed by the Prime Minister in 2009 and was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2010. Its Outstanding Universal Values are reflected in its historical longevity, its continuous role as a seat of power, and its multiple cultural layers.
Despite most of Hanoi’s ancient Thang Long citadel was destroyed by the French colonialists, the remnants still provide fascinating insight into Vietnam’s history. The story began in late 2003 when the Institute of Archaeology announced the initial findings of the Vietnam’s largest excavation at 18 Hoang Dieu Street, BaDinh district. People were amazed by what had been exposed. The deepest layer contained evidence of buildings from the pre Thang Long period (7th-9th centuries AD), or the Dai La Citadel. Wooden columns had remained intact in the clay environment created by the alluvium of the Red River. There were also ancient wells and roof tiles decorated with terracotta animal heads.
The next layer contained architectural traces from the Ly-Tran dynasties (11th- 14th centuries AD), including a foundation buttress, foundation columns carved with dragon motifs, a tiled base, and drainage canals. Archaeologists also found sophisticated decorative architectural relies like phoenix heads and dragon figures, confirming that the manufacturing technology, kilns and skills of the era were quite advanced. After nearly a millennium, the colored glaze remained intact.
The top layer of the excavation at 18 Hoang Dieu Street revealed remnants from the Le dynasty (15th-18th centuries AD) with structures made of wooden hammered bricks and walled wells, particularly fascinating are roof tiles decorated with five clawed dragons designed for royal palaces and ceramic objects for royal use.
The objects unearthed at this site span more than 1,000 years, confirming the continuous development of Thang Long Citadel as reported in historical documents. These priceless archaeological findings and those found on the surface in the Central Sector of Thang Long Citadel give us a more complete picture of the continuous evolution of Thang Long capital as the seat of power of the Dai Viet kingdom from the 11th to the 18th centuries AD. For this reason, UNESCO recognized the Citadel as a World Heritage Site on the occasion of the 1,000th anniversary of Hanoi in year 2010.
Inside the Citadel stands the D67 Building – another historical structure built during the war (1954-1975). It was in this building that the Politburo of the Workers’ Party of Vietnam (now the Communist Party of Viet Nam) and the Central Military Party Commission held regular meetings from 1967 to 1975. As it was built in 1967, the building was named D67. This building features a nine meter deep underground bomb shelter with three stairs where the generals could work during U.S, bombardments. Today, visitors may come here to see the place where the generals made important decisions on how to lead the war against the U.S, imperialists, and to see simple yet historically interesting objects like electric table fans and mechanical telephones.
One a prohibited area, the Old Hanoi Citadel is now open to the public. The standing monuments and subterranean vestiges of palaces, together with numerous other unique artifacts unearthed in the Central Sector of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel Hanoi are invaluable assets not only of Vietnam but also the entire human race.
Opening time: 8.00AM – 17.00PM everyday (except for Monday)
Entrance gate: No. 19C Hoang Dieu Street, Ba Dinh district.
Entrance fee: + Ticket Price: ~ $1.4/person.