The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (also known as Tay Do Citadel), which is located in Vinh Loc District, Thanh Hoa, is one of the most extraordinary stone architectural sights in Vietnam. It was built by Ho Quy Ly in 1397. He later occupied the citadel when he forcibly took the throne in 1400, changing the country’s name from Dai Viet to Dai Ngu (Big Happiness)
After 600 years with all the ups and downs during history, The Ho Dynasty Citadel was recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site in 2011. The recognition has brought pride and great joy to the Vietnamese people while paying homage to the epic history of their fatherland. At the moment, this is also the favorite tourist destination for a lot of visitors coming to Thanh Hoa for the first time.
The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty is a solid citadel with its unique large-scale stone architecture that has a great value in Vietnam culture and history. Even after a long period, a lot of parts of the citadel are still perfectly preserved. Unlike many other citadels that were built from bricks, the citadel was built with huge stone slabs from nearby mountains. It features four arched gates facing east, west, north, and south. The large stone slabs required a new building technique that workers installed without the use of any mortar.
To this day, there are still many mysteries that scientists and historians have not been able to explain about the process of building this stone citadel.
After 10 years of being recognized as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO (2011-2021), the Ho Dynasty Citadel has preserved and promoted its inherent value. Many excavations were carried out and a lot of rare documents were found, contributing to the restoration and embellishment of this unique stone citadel.
Surrounding the Citadel are a lot of relics like the exhibition house, Nang Cave and An Ton Mountain, temples of Binh Khuong, Giang pagoda, Ho Cong cave, Dong Mon Communal house, and so on. Inside the citadel are Thanh Noi (Inner citadel), Hao Thanh, La Thanh, and Nam Giao Altar.
– Thanh Noi (Inner Citadel): Thanh Noi is the main architectural work of the citadel, also known as Imperial Citadel with the remains of the royal palaces and temples inside. It is fairly square with about 870.5m long north and south sides, and 883.5m long east and west sides. Thanh Noi has four domed gates called the South, North, West, and East (also known as the Front, Back, Left, and Right gates), each located at the center of each side. The Front Gate in the south is the most important and has three entrances.
According to the documents, there were palaces in the Thanh Noi such as Hoang Nguyen, Nhan Tho, Phu Cuc, Dong Cung, Dong Thai Mieu, Tay Thai Mieu, Diem Canh, etc. However, now Thanh Noi remains some relics such as a part of the citadel’s wall and four gates, vestiges of lakes, a couple of stone dragons with sophisticated carving features, the foundation of Thanh Noi architecture, Hoa Nhai marble-paved road, stone balls, stone bullets, pottery, the Southern gate precinct and valuable objects with specific characteristics of Tran – Ho dynasties culture.
– Hao Thanh: Hao Thanh is the system of water trench surrounding the Thanh Noi and connected with the Buoi River through a canal at the southeast corner of the citadel.
– La Thanh: the outer wall of the citadel built to protect the Thanh Noi was home to residents in the citadel. It was approximately 10km in perimeter and its construction was based on the natural terrain.
– Nam Giao Altar: It is located in the southwest of Don Son Mountain, on the spiritual pathway directly connected with the South gate of Thanh Noi, about 2.5km away from the citadel of the Ho Dynasty to the southeast. This is the place to sacrifice to heaven; pray for harmonious rain and wind, a peaceful country and happy people, prosperous and everlasting dynasty.
Each year, the relic welcomes about 70,000 visitors.
Other places to see in Thanh Hoa
1. Ham Rong Bridge
Next to the beautiful Ham Rong mountain is Ham Rong bridge, the only railway bridge that crosses the Ma River. The bridge consists of 2 steel girder spans, in the middle is the railway, the two sides are the car road and the pedestrian street.
Ham Rong bridge played an important role during its history and has become a famous tourist destination and historical site in Thanh Hoa.
2. Pu Luong nature reserve
One glance at the Pu Luong Nature Reserve and you’ll see why the ethnic Thai people made this enchanting valley their home long ago. The slow pace in Pu Luong is a striking contrast to life in the capital just a few hours away. Endless mountains, fertile valleys, and pristine jungle are just a few good reasons to visit.
With an extremely diverse and rich ecosystem stretching over an area of more than 17,600 hectares, the Pu Luong nature reserve never ceases to amaze the newcomers with its wonderful natural scenery.
3. Golden Cow farm
Golden Cow Farm (also known as Hoc Duong farm), is a Thanh Hoa tourist destination located in Luong Son commune, Thuong Xuan district – an ideal place for you to enjoy nature, relax and have fun with your family and friends.
4. Sam Son beach
Sam Son is a coastal borough in the east of Thanh Hoa, 16km from the center of Thanh Hoa City.
Sam Son has long been a famous spot for tourism in Vietnam since the beginning of the previous century when the French began to build facilities there to serve themselves and the courts of the Nguyen regime. In addition to the gifts that nature presents, Sam Son also has many attractions for travelers to explore.