A brief history of Hanoi Old Quarter
The history of Ha Noi Old Quarter can be traced back to the 11th century, where King Ly Thai To decided to choose Thang Long (now Ha Noi) as the capital city and build his palace there.
As the result, many skilled craftsmen gathered around this royal palace to sell their products, creating a cluster of villages each specialized in a different type of craft. These specialized villages, or guild, made it easier for craftsmen with the same skills to work together and for the products to be transported to a specific street. Overtime, this collection of villages became a busy trading center, especially reached its peak under the French colony, when it became a well-known marketplace to trade both the local goods and those from China, France and India.
In addition, a typical house here is about 3 meters wide and 60 meters long, which means that the length is approximately 20 times as big as the width! This is because back then store owners were taxed according to the width of the storefront, thus in order to save the money but still make sure to contain a lot of goods, they had to lengthen their houses, making uniquely-shaped buildings called “tube houses”. After so many years and especially the American war when Ha Noi was heavily bombed, most of this Quarter retains its original state and architecture, thus becoming Hanoi’s very heart and soul.