Co Loa Citadel, Hanoi’s one of the most beautiful and historical relics

Located on a beautiful countryside, outskirt of Hanoi, 17km away from Hanoi downtown, Co Loa Citadel is completely different to other historical relics. Co Loa is a vestige and prominent evidence that still exist until now. Co Loa Citadel is regarded as the most ancient citadel with largest size and highest scale, its design is also listed into the most unique citadel in Vietnam’s history of constructing ramparts during the old days.


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The overview of An Duong Vuong Temple (Photo: Vietnamnet)

About 16km from the north of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Co Loa Citadel was officially the first citadel in the length of Vietnamese history, and it became the national capital in the reign of King Ngo Quyen (AD 939-44). These vestiges of antique Co Loa Citadel of the ramparts enclosed an area of 5 square km, have been retained and now become a favorite historical destination in Hanoi, Vietnam.

In the reign of Au Lac, Co Loa is located in the peak of the triangle of the Red River Delta, in which people can exchange the importance of waterways and roads. Also, from the citadel, the royal can control both the highland and lowland sites. The antique citadel is situated on Phong Khe where people live by farming, catching fishes and some handicrafts, the decision on choosing Phong Chau as the capital of Au Lac target to the development of Vietnam at that time.

Unique Structure of Co Loa Citadel Hanoi

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Photo: daytourshanoi

Co Loa Citadel is rated by archaeologists as: “The oldest citadel, largest scale, and the most unique structure in the history of ancient Vietnamese in building citadels”.

Co Loa Citadel was built in a spiral-shaped type (hence called Loa citadel – a speaker shape citadel). According to the legend, the citadel has 9 walls, and is surrounded by deep moats which could let boats transfer easily. Nowadays, there are only 3 walls left, with total length of 16 km: the Outer Wall (Thành ngoại) with perimeter of 8km, the Middle Wall (Thành trung) has polygonal shape and perimeter of 6.5 km and the Central Wall (Thành nội) has rectangular shape, perimeter of 1.6 km, used to the residence of King An Duong Vuong with the court, today it’s the place where the temple is built and as well as other historical relics of Co Loa.

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Photo: daystourhanoi

It was said that long times ago, the wall was built up simultaneously with the ramparts and all three walls were surrounded by moats. Located at the eastward of the wall, the Đầm Cả (Main Lagoon) has 5 streams with the purpose of bringing water into the Middle Wall and the Central Wall, created a closed circle for making comfortable and flexible infantry bases and sailor bases. Today, the walls’ height is 4-5 meter on average, somewhere is up to 12 meters high, while the wall base is 20-30 meter wide.

At that time, the weapons used in the citadel were only swords, spears, bows and arrows, and the scale of Co Loa Citadel was very solid.

Co Loa Citadel is connected closely with miraculous and interesting legend of the Vietnamese, for example: An Duong Vuong King established its kingdom, constructed the Citadel; the magic crossbow gift from the golden turtle which can kill hundreds of invaders; the sorrowful love story between My Chau (Hung King’s daughter) and Trong Thuy (son of Trieu Da King – enemy of Hung King), etc. Throughout many dynasties, this ancient Citadel together with its historic figures has become a legend in every sub-conscious mind of Vietnamese people.

Every year, on the 5th and 6th of the first lunar calendar month, the Co Loa Festival is held to commemorate and honor An Duong Vuong (Thuc Phan), who built the country of Au Lac and Co Loa Citadel. At Co Loa festival, besides the solemn ceremony with many traditional rituals, the festival is also held in the areas around the temple with many interesting folk games such as: swinging, wrestling, rice cooking competition, love duets singing, water puppetry and cock fighting.

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Co Loa Festival is one among important festival at the beginning of the new year celebration. (Photo: Vietnamnet)
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A traditional ritual performed at Co Loa Festival (Photo: Vietnamnet)

All make a lively and cheerful atmosphere during the festival. Every year, tens of thousands of people throughout the country come to the festival.

With outstanding cultural, artistic, architectural, and scenic values, Co Loa Relics was ranked by the state as a National Historical and Cultural Relics in 1962. In 2012 it was recognized as the National Special Relics by the Prime Minister.

Nowadays, Co Loa Citadel has not only been a cultural heritage but also a lively evidence of the creation, the technique skill as well as the ancient Vietnamese culture in their struggle of protecting Vietnam from its invaders, it also becomes the ideal destination for travelers who want to discover the cultural values, the familiar landscape of a peaceful northern village.

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Singers perform love duets on boat. (Photo: Vietnamnet)