On November 12, the authorities and residents of Son Tay Town in Hanoi came together to commemorate the significant 200th anniversary of the historic Son Tay Citadel. The occasion was marked by a host of investment and tourism initiatives, exemplifying the town’s commitment to preserving and promoting its rich heritage.

Hot-air balloon tour at the Son Tay Ancient Citadel festival kicked off on November 12. Source: Vietnam News Agency

The primary objective of the event is to increase awareness and promote a sense of responsibility among young individuals towards the preservation of our historical and cultural heritage.

Visitors will have the opportunity to gain insights into the unique attributes of the fortress while exploring its rich history. Furthermore, Son Tay Town is endeavoring to bolster local tourism endeavors, thus making conributions towards the socioeconomic development of Hanoi.

The event showcases a variety of engaging activities for visitors to enjoy. These include an exhibition of captivating photographs, ancient relics from archaeology, beautifully crafted calligraphy, inspiring art performances, immersive tours, and an exciting balloon showdown. The latter offers guests an unforgettable aerial perspective of the breathtaking ancient citadel and Son Tay Town.

The local authorities have implemented various initiatives to enhance the preservation and promotion of the fortress. These include the establishment of a dedicated pedestrian street surrounding the fortress, the hosting of educational workshops focused on conservation efforts, the introduction of a strategic itinerary connecting different parts of Son Tay, the formulation of an effective conservation plan for the fortress, and the submission of an application for recognition as a unique national heritage site.

“The 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Son Tay Ancient Citadel holds great significance, as it provides an opportunity for the local community to commemorate, showcase, and enhance the remarkable historical and cultural attributes of the fortress, alongside the potential tourism offerings within the town,” expressed Tran Anh Tuan, the Secretary of the Son Tay Town Party Committee.

“We aim to appeal to both domestic and international tourists who wish to visit ‘the holy land’ and contribute to the local socio-economic growth while also enhancing the prestige and prosperity of the capital city of Hanoi,” Tuan stated.

According to Chairman Do Van Tru of the Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association, the ancient citadel of Son Tay possesses significant historical, architectural, construction technological, and strategic values.

According to Truong Quoc Binh, former deputy director of the Department of Cultural Heritage, the ancient citadel of Son Tay is a highly regarded destination for enthusiasts of history, culture, architecture, and military heritage. The discoveries made at this site have played a crucial role in the study, preservation, and promotion of its rich historical and cultural significance.

The fortress, renowned for its significant cultural importance, was officially designated as a historical heritage site by the colonial administration in 1924. Subsequently, in 1994, the esteemed Ministry of Culture and Information (now known as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) further acknowledged the Son Tay Ancient Citadel as a prestigious National historical heritage site.

Brief History

The Son Tay Ancient Citadel, situated approximately 40 kilometers west of Hanoi, dates back to 1822 during the reign of King Minh Mang of the Nguyen Dynasty. This historical structure represents a time when Eastern feudal nations faced challenges posed by Western colonialism.

Pedestrians walk on the street at the ancient citadel area in Son Tay Town. Photo: The Hanoi Times

The Son Tay Ancient Citadel plays a crucial role as one of the prominent outposts of Thang Long, the historical name of Hanoi. Its significance lies in its role as a protective stronghold, defending the capital and supporting the central government in managing the surrounding regions.

The ancient citadel of Son Tay showcases the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people as they fought for their sovereignty, independence, and freedom. Constructed using durable laterite, this historic site stands as a revered symbol of Vietnamese fortification arts.

Tong Trung Tin, the chairman of the Vietnam Archaeology Association, stated in an interview with the Vietnam News Agency that the ancient citadel of Son Tay holds only a scant amount of evidence showcasing Vietnamese construction techniques, as a majority of the site has been ravaged by the passage of time and numerous wars.

According to Nguyen Huy Khanh, the former chairman of the Son Tay City People’s Committee, the fortress represents a unique blend of cultural, historical, architectural, and ecological values that have been diligently preserved over the years.

Tran Anh Tuan, Secretary of the Son Tay City Party Committee, stated that the ancient fortress is a highly sought-after tourist destination, attracting visitors from both domestic and international origins.

“Numerous visitors have flocked to experience the magnificence of the relic and stroll along the bustling pedestrian street. The majority of these visitors choose to visit on weekends,” stated Tuan confidently.

According to the local government, more than 250,000 visitors have visited the old fortress and the pedestrian street within four months of its opening.

Around the Town on Balloons

The Hanoi Department of Tourism and Son Tay Town have jointly announced the unveiling of the Son Tay International Balloon Festival 2022, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the revered ancient citadel.

Visitors to the festival will have the opportunity to experience an exhilarating adventure as they float through the air aboard five spacious hot-air balloons. These magnificent vessels will offer scenic views of Son Tay Town and the historic Son Tay Ancient Citadel. Our team of skilled pilots from England, the US, Belgium, and Portugal will ensure a safe and memorable journey for all participants.

The complimentary flights commence at 6:00 am and conclude at sunset. Each flight accommodates a maximum of 2 to 3 passengers and lasts for 45 minutes, covering an altitude range of 300 to 500 meters.

Weather Confirmation

Please note that all flights are subject to confirmation of weather conditions. In the event that the weather is unsuitable for the balloons to take off, passengers will have the option to receive a refund or reschedule their flight for another day. Your safety and satisfaction are our top priorities.

According to Pham Hong Minh, the Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Tourism, the balloon ride is an innovative addition to the tourism activities available in the region. Designed to captivate both domestic and international visitors, this unique experience aims to invigorate the local tourism sector.

The Hot Air Balloon Festival will be ongoing until the conclusion of November 20th.