Co Loa Citadel

Being a cultural heritage, a testament to the creativity and technical skills of the old Vietnamese, Co Loa Citadel is definitely an ideal tourist destination that visitors cannot ignore when visiting Hanoi.

Overview

About 16 kilometers from the north of Hanoi Old Quarter, visitors have a chance to admire one of Vietnam's most well-known historical relics - Co Loa Citadel.

Located in Co Loa Commune, Dong Anh District, outskirt of Hanoi, the citadel is considered as the cultural cradle of both Hanoi City individually and Vietnam generally. This relic was associated with many legends of the Vietnamese people, such as King An Duong Vuong's decision in building a citadel and establishing national capital, Kim Quy's magic crossbow, the touching story of My Chau - Trong Thuy.

Photo : haufo.hanoi.gov.vn

Built from the early days of the Vietnamese people, the citadel "witnessed" the Vietnamese people's glorious historical journey, and preserved the country's unique and valuable cultural values since ancient times. In addition, Co Loa Citadel is also an evidence showing the creativity and technical skills of the Vietnamese from ancient times.

Co Loa Citadel is an ideal tourist destination for visitors to learn about thousands of years of Vietnamese culture, as well as the outstanding architecture of Vietnam. In addition, visitors also have chances to get knowledge of Vietnam's history from its primitive times as well as famous Vietnamese legends.

History

Co Loa Citadel is the oldest building in Vietnam associated with historic stories and legends.

Photo : motogo.vn

From the 3rd century B.C, An Duong Vuong established Au Lac Kingdom and selected Co Loa as the capital of the country. And more than 1000 years later, under Dai Viet Kingdom, Ngo Quyen – an excellent general who ended a millennia of Chinese occupation in 938, also chose Co Loa to establish the capital. This place preserves a series of archaeological relics reflecting the continuous development of the Vietnamese people from at the beginnings through historic periods. Therefore, through the discovery of Co Loa Citadel, archaeologists discovered a unique and valuable Dong Son culture, also known as the Red River civilization of the Vietnamese people in the prehistoric time.

Structure of the citadel

Co Loa Citadel was built in a spiral-shaped type. According to legend, the citadel had 9 walls, however, after the discovery, archaeologists found only 3 main walls left.

The Outer Wall (Thanh Ngoai): with a circumference of about 8 kilometers, and average height of 4-5 meters was built in the method of digging the soil while making moats.

The Middle Wall (Thanh Trung): with the same structure as the Outer Wall but had a narrower and more solid area with a circumference of about 6.5 kilometers.

The Central Wall (Thanh Noi): was the residence of the king and some mandarins, so it had a rather small circumference of about 1.65 kilometers. Later, An Duong Vuong Temple, Temple of My Chau Princess and a number of famous historical structures were built in this area. 

What to see in Co Loa Citadel

An Duong Vuong Temple (Thuong Temple)

Visiting Co Loa Citadel, An Duong Vuong Temple is the most attractive place to visitors. Located on an old hill that once situated the king’s palace, the temple was built in 1687 under the dynasty of King Le Hi Tong and restored in 1893.

Photo : laodongthudo.vn

In front of the temple, there is the stone of two dedicatedly-carved dragons – which has become the typical icon of sculpture art in the Le Dynasty. Inside a large lake located right in front of the temple is Ngoc well - where Trong Thuy ended himself his life in the legend.

Besides, a number of artefacts kept inside the temple are bronze-statue of An Duong Vuong, the statue of white horse and pink horse, bronze and porcelain items.

Co Loa Communal House

This temple was moved from elsewhere and built at the end of the 18th century on an area known as the focal point of social gatherings and community observances of King Thuc Phan.

Photo : thanhcoloa.vn

The door of the temple was carved with the four sacred creatures in Vietnam (dragon - unicorn - turtle - phoenix) and four kinds of typical flowers (peach - chrysanthemum - bamboo - apricot). This sculpture product was delicately carved and gilded, which makes visitors excited and surprised.

With solid and sizable architecture, the temple will surely make visitors appreciate artefacts with great historical value and appearing from thousands of years ago.

Temple of My Chau Princess

This temple is also known as the tomb of Princess My Chau. In the temple, there is a natural stone called My Chau stone with the shape of a person without a head. According to legend, after her death, Mi Chau turned into a big stone drifting to Duong Cam located on the east of Co Loa Citadel. The people brought the stone back by a hammock, but the stone fell at the stump of the banyan tree where the temple was later built.

Photo : thanhcoloa.vn

In addition, on the wall of the temple, there is a horizontal lacquered board carving a Chinese characters poem by poet Chu Manh Trinh.

With the legend of My Chau stone, this place has become a curiosity destination for many visitors.

Cao Lo Temple

Cao Lo - an excellent general under the dynasty of King Thuc Phan - was the inventor of the Lien Chau crossbow, and also was in charge of the construction of Co Loa Citadel. Therefore, this temple was built to commemorate his great merit to the country. In addition, the statue of Cao Lo with crossbows was erected in the middle of the lake in front of the temple.

Photo : baotintuc.vn

When visiting Co Loa Citadel, Cao Lo Temple is one of the certain destinations for many visitors to show their admiration for a brilliant and talented general.

Best time to visit

If you are the one who like the festive atmosphere and want to learn about Vietnamese culture and customs, the best time for you to visit the Co Loa Citadel is the 6th day of lunar January 6 - when the Co Loa festival takes place with multi activities such as: processions, liturgies, along with unique and interesting folk games.

However, if you just want to spend time quietly and comfortably enjoying the monumental and creative architecture of the citadel, learning about the stories associated with it, you should avoid that festival day and weekends because of the crowd.

How to get there

Lying on the outskirts of Hanoi, Co Loa Citadel is one of attractive tourist destinations for visitors who wish to learn about Vietnamese culture and history.

About 15 kilometers from the Hanoi Old Quarter, you can reach the citadel by motorbike or car according to the route: following Highway 1A, crossing the Duong River bridge, turning left from Yen Vien Town to enter Highway No.3, riding 5 km further to Co Loa Citadel.

You can also move to Co Loa Citadel by bus to save travel costs. It is possible for visitors to catch Bus No. 46 from My Dinh area, or Bus No.15 and 17 from Long Bien transit station.

Useful Information

  • Location: Co Loa, Dong Anh, Hanoi
  • Best for: All visitors
  • Entrance: N/A
  • Hours: Day time visit is recommended
  • Distance to city center: 10.4km (6.5 mi)
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