Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

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This former capital of Vietnam is proud to have its central sector listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.  The prestigious title was awarded to Hanoi on its 1000th year.  The citadel was first built on reclaimed land from the Red River delta in the 11th century.  And for centuries, it had been the seat of power – from the time of Vietnamese Emperor Ly Thai To and other rulers from royal dynasties that followed, the French colonial rule and to the communist rule.

The plan to construct a new Parliament building within the walled city has been on hold since archeological treasures have been discovered.  Architectural relics from the Imperial City such as phoenix heads, dragon figures and decorated roof tiles have been unearthed.  You might spot on some archeologists at the site when you’re on top of Doan Mon Gate or at Nº18 Hoang Dieu.  You’d also get to walk through an underground bomb shelter and the communist military headquarters in D67 building.  Presenting all the artifacts is still a work in progress.

Not many travel books recommend the citadel as a place of interest.  It’s probably because it was closed to the public for many years.  In fact, a portion of it is still closed today.  It is also possible that travel writers don’t want to disappoint their readers, as the citadel appears to be not as grand as the unearthing of terracotta warriors in Xian or the Forbidden City in Beijing.  For an entrance fee of 30k Vietnamese dong (USD1.50), a half-day spent walking in its grounds is money well spent.  But then again, I leave that up to you to decide.

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