Mr. Pham Hung Son, Head of the Management Board of the Son Tay relic site, said the site remains intact: “The Son Tay citadel was built by King Minh Mang in 1822 to defend the western approach to the city of Thang Long, which is now Hanoi. The architecture of the relic site is undamaged, with massive citadel walls and two gates in the West and South”.
The Son Tay citadel covers an area of 16 hectares near the two villages of Thuan Nghe and May Trai. The relic site has walls made of laterite and four gates made of bricks.
On each side of the citadel is a gate which was guarded by cannons and reached via a stone bridge. In the past there were four brick bridges across the moat, but only two bridges exist today.
Mr. Son says the Son Tay citadel was recognized as a National Architectural Historical Relic in 1994. He said, “The Son Tay citadel was built in the French style out of laterite, a material plentiful in the area. It is a military structure with firing loopholes to protect the gates”.
The outer perimeter of the site is surrounded with bamboo. The Citadel has quadrilateral, trapezoidal cross-sections. There are many crannies at the top where soldiers could can hide and shoot at any enemy attempting to seale the walls.
Inside an octagonal 18-meter-high flag tower, which also served as an observation post. In 1940, a signal transmitter was installed on top of the tower to announce the time and transmit emergency warnings to the people.
Mr. Son says Kinh Thien Palace and the Vong Cung Gate are the site’s most outstanding architectural features: “These two sites were places where the King could rest and conduct prayers for peace and prosperity. Apart from its architectural and historical importance, the citadel also has great spiritual significance”.
The Son Tay citadel has become a popular tourist destination. Tran Hoai Ngoc, a visitor from Ho Chi Minh City, said: “The Son Tay citadel has an architectural style different from the Thang Long citadel and citadels of the Ho Dynasty. The relic is still intact and is surrounded by many trees. It is also near other tourist attractions such as Duong Lam village and the Viet Nam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism”.
The Son Tay citadel is one of the great symbols of Vietnam’s cultural and historical heritage.