VietnamHanoiA Day Trip to Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi

A Day Trip to Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi

Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi is considered the most ancient citadel in Vietnam. This historical site was the cultural epicenter of old Vietnam as the capital of the Au Lac Kingdom (3rd century BC), during the An Duong Vuong dynasty. Its structure is now appreciated as the oldest, largest-scale structure and the most unique in ancient Vietnam’s history. Located just about 16 km north of Hanoi, escape from the city and into the tranquil countryside and mythical world of Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi.

Structures of Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi

Situated at the apex of the Red River Delta, the Au Lac Kingdom declared Co Loa their ancient capital because of its prosperous connections to the waterways and roads. Co Loa was accessible in three directions using the river waterway and many roads that led through the city, making It an exchange hub for both information and resources.

Not only that but there is a warfare advantage of being able to control both the surrounding highland and lowland areas from this position. The lands here at the time were also highly acceptable for farming on a large scale, and it was the focus of development to strengthen the whole of Vietnam.

Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi has a spiral-shaped pattern that includes multiple layers of structures, moats, and ditches. During its prime, the citadel boasted 9 walls and a surrounding deep moat large enough to allow boat transport. Nowadays, only 3 walls remain intact while the other has eroded with time.

The Outer Wall is the largest of the three, with a perimeter of 8 km. The Middle Wall has a perimeter of 6.5 km, and the Central Wall has a perimeter of 1.6 km. The Middle Wall used to be the residence of King An Duong Vuong and his court, but today, it is known as the Thuong Temple, dedicated to the late kings. Surrounding the temple area are other historical relics, such as stone statues representative of the period.

Cultural Value of Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi

Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi has ties with ancient legends that are accepted as a part of Vietnamese historical culture. One legend tells of how the construction of the Co Loa Citadel failed at first, but then the King made a sacrifice to the gods and was visited by a golden turtle in his dream. It instructed him to build the city in a different location. That location is where present-day Co Loa now sits.

The story continues with the golden turtle gifting the King a magic crossbow that could eliminate hundreds of invaders with one trigger pull. Later, the King’s daughter, My Chau, fell in love with the son of an enemy, Trong Thuy, and a political marriage followed soon after to unite the two kingdoms. However, this love story ended in betrayal, with My Chau allowing Trong Thuy to steal the magic crossbow, and the Au Lac Kingdom was easily invaded shortly after.

The golden turtle then told the King of his daughter’s betrayal, and he killed her. The story has various endings from this point. Some say the King committed suicide by drowning in the ocean. Others say the golden turtle took the King to sea and never to be seen again.

Besides this interesting legend, the Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi has served as a cultural stronghold in Vietnamese history. The citadel is a cultural heritage due to its age and significance in influencing the dynasties after it.

In the military aspect, Co Loa Citadel provided an exemplary defensive nature adapted by later dynasties. Meanwhile, the social aspects are shown in the divisions of the King’s quarter from his soldiers and subjects. It is an example of the common differentiation of classes in this era.

How to Get to Co Loa Citadel

Co Lao Citadel is only a short distance from the center of Hanoi (16 km north). Taking a motorbike taxis service or a regular taxi will take about 30 minutes to reach the foot of the citadel. Public transportation in the form of buses are also an option but will take roughly 45 minutes to an hour. Take bus number 43 northbound to reach the Co Loa Citadel from the center of Hanoi (the bus fare will be VND 8,000 or roughly US$ 0.35).

Conclusion on a Day Trip to Co Loa Citadel in Hanoi

Co Loa Citadel is a great destination when you want to escape the city atmosphere. Not only is it an important cultural and historic site in Vietnam’s history, but it is also the most ancient and largest-scale structure of its type in Vietnam. Its relatively short distance from the center of Hanoi makes it even more accessible as a day trip.

Check out other Attractions and Activities in Hanoi

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