The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi is one of the oldest and most important historical monuments in Vietnam. Therefore, a visit to this incredible place is perfect if you want to know more about Vietnamese history. Back in 2010, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Therefore, this historical complex is simply one of the things you must do when in Hanoi.
The history of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was built in the 7th century during the Dinh-Tien Le dynasties and had its days of glory in the Ly, Tran, Le, and Nguyen dynasties. Then in 1010, the Capital of Vietnam was moved to Hanoi, where it had its headquarters in the Imperial Citadel. This capital was then named Thang Long. Thereby, Hanoi became a powerful political, cultural, and economic center.
During the reign of several dynasties, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi was where the king and the rest of the royal family lived. As well as it was the place where the country’s important celebrations were held. Then in 1802, when the Nguyen Dynasty moved the capital to Hué, the importance and use of the Thang Long citadel were dissolved.
The citadel today: A walk through the complex
When you visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi the first thing you will encounter is the Doan Mon – also known as the main gate. Here you will notice that the sizes of the doors are different, and there is a special reason for that. The largest of the doors was dedicated to the king, whereas the remaining doors were used for mandarins. If you find yourself in the northern part of the complex you might see Chinh Bac Mon (the main northern gate). This gate was built in 1805 and is the only remaining gate dating back to the Nguyen Dynasty.
When you walk through the complex you will meet the Kinh Thien Palace. This was built in 1482 and is located right in the center of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The palace was destroyed in 1886 when French colonialists built the French Army Artillery Command. It is possible to see the remaining ruins with some old stone foundations and steps leading to the former main hall. By the steps, you will find the highlight of the palace – the two dragons. These were sculptured in the 15th century and represent the architectural style of the Thien Le Dynasty in Vietnam.
Another building inside the big complex is Hau Lau. This was built in 1821 and used during the Nguyen Dynasty. When the king visited Hanoi, Hau Lau became a resting place for the maidens of the palace. During the last years of the 19th century, the building was damaged. But then the French colonialists had it renovated, making it stand as the building you will during your visit to the citadel.
The most famous part of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is the Hanoi flag tower. This was built in the early 19th century during the Nguyen Dynasty. It has become so important to the entire sights because it is actually one of the few landmarks inside the citadel that French colonialists did not destroy.
Lastly, during your visit, you will be able to admire the Archaeological site of 18 Hoang Dieu. This is found west of the Kihn Thien Palace. The excavation started in 2002 and has discovered many different types of relics. Traces of ancient architectural works have been found, as well as an abundance of artifacts – including different decorations, ceramics of former Vietnamese dynasties, and so much more. A visit to this part of the citadel is amazing as you get to experience the development that the Thang Long capital underwent from the 11th to the 18th century in Vietnam.
Everything you need to know for a visit to the Citadel of Hanoi
As we have said so many times before, there are numerous things that are good to keep in mind when traveling and exploring different attractions and sights. As usual, we have gathered some of the information we found useful for our visit to the Citadel of Hanoi. Below you will find everything you need to know about visiting the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi.
Getting to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi
Getting to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi is quite easy. The address of this incredible complex is 19C Hoang Dieu street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. The cheapest way to get there is walking for about 20 to 30 minutes – but keep in mind that it can be a long walk, depending on where you are in the city, and you will need the energy to walk even more inside the citadel complex. Other than that, it is possible to either take a taxi or Grab, drive yourself or take the bus.
We would recommend you make use of the hop-on-and-off-bus in Hanoi. It is a perfect way of going sightseeing as it drives you around to every major sight in Hanoi. That you will have the opportunity to see a lot in a day or two – especially if your time in Hanoi happens to be limited.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday every week. The opening hours of the citadel are from 8:00 to 17:00.
The entrance fee to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long varies depending on some different things. The price for an adult to enter the citadel is 30.000 VND, whereas it is free to visit, for children under 15 years old. The entrance fee for students aged 15 years or older (required a valid student id) and Vietnamese elderly (from 60 years old and up), is 15.000 VND.
Time spent at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi is a huge complex. Therefore, it is quite easy to spend a couple of hours wandering this incredible site. We would recommend spending around 2 to 3 hours in the morning or afternoon on a visit to the citadel of Hanoi.
Many of the historical sites in Vietnam have a strict dress code. As a visitor, you should pay attention to this, as they turn you away if you do not comply with the guidelines. Your shoulders and knees must be covered, and hats are also not allowed.
Best time to visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi
The best time to visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi is in the afternoon. The site is huge, so it rarely feels too crowded. Therefore, it can be a good idea to visit some of the nearby attractions, like the famous Train Street or the stunning Temple of Literature, in the morning and then spend a relaxing afternoon walking through the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long.