One of the many points of interest in the beautiful city of Hanoi is the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long or simply the Hanoi Citadel. Considered a must-visit, the citadel features age-old relics, ruins, and structures that show the rich and colorful history of Vietnam.
My first visit to the citadel was quite unexpected. I had strayed away from the Hoan Kiem Lake where I usually go on weekends and was just walking past countless shops and houses. Before I knew it, I was standing in front of a big gate where a lot of tourists were going in. I asked one of them and he told me that it was actually one of the stops in their tour. So I just went right in without knowing what it was exactly.
The experience was fascinating and I totally fell in love with the place. I knew that I’d have to come back with a decent camera the following week.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
True enough, I came back the following week with my camera and a renewed energy to explore this beautiful gem. With me was my Korean friend Song.
After paying the ticket (30,000 VND each or roughly PhP70,) we were ready to explore the 18-ha landmark. To get to the main gate, we had to walk past a row of trees next to a big open plot of land.
The wooden plant boxes look really nice and sturdy so I had to take a photo of them.
We saw several birdhouses in the area. This explains why.
The Main Gate
Finally, we arrived at the main gate.
We entered one of the two tunnels on both ends of the gate. It looked really fascinating.
At the end of the tunnel, we saw a dig site that shows some of the preserved materials from the original structures built as early as 1010 AD.
Then, we saw this long staircase that leads to the structure above the main gate.
Here is a view of the structure from atop the gate. It’s quite interesting to note that there was a huge mango tree right next to the structure. And to think that the gate is probably around three stories high.
The details on the stone dragons on the roof are just amazing.
Here is a view of the structure’s interiors.
Inside the tower, you will get an amazing view of the big open ground in front of it as well as the flag tower located inside the Museum of Military History.
The flag tower looks really pretty.
My friend Song (and some other tourists) waiting in the shade. Hanoi can be surprisingly hot.
Exploring the Citadel
We got off the gate and explored the other parts of the citadel.
If I’m not mistaken, this is a small temple as I saw a couple of people praying and offering incense sticks in this area.
A Vietnamese lady drives past an old structure that has been closed off to visitors.
This small structure is a small museum that houses a lot of materials related to the Smurfs. I was taking photos inside when I commented that I couldn’t read French. One of the visitors there responded that she’s from France. She ended up explaining to me the things on display.
Next, we went to the museum on the opposite side of the Smurfs ‘house’ which features some of the artifacts found in the area. Check out the artifacts and their amazingly stunning details.
Finally, here is my favorite shot of the gate. Isn’t it just lovely?