The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its cultural, political, and architectural significance. Unlike other UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve been to, the citadel was kind of a disappointment to me. I thought I was gonna see much more than just one edifice of a bygone era.

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi
The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi (Vietnam)

Standing or sitting at the facade gave me an impression of its well-maintained domain.

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi
The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi(Vietnam)

But, of course, I was wrong! Go up and you will find its outgrown sods.

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi
The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi (Vietnam)

I believe that there is more to this sole structure but they’re not showing it -yet? The brochure I had said about objects (coins, ceramics) that were excavated in 2004 but I didn’t see one.

Things to do in Hanoi (Vietnam)
Things to do in Hanoi (Vietnam).

So, I decided to explore a few small buildings behind the main building but I was stopped by a gardener. He said, there’s nothing to see there.

Things to do in Hanoi (Vietnam).
Things to do in Hanoi (Vietnam).

In other words, there is nothing much to see in the whole premises.

Things to do in Hanoi (Vietnam).
The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi

All you have to do is go up there, read some of the inscriptions, go around the tiny area, and leave.

Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).
Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).

Though the 1,300-year-old structure is not anymore the seat of power, political celebrations are held here from time to time.

Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).
Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).

On the day I visited it, the place still had some decorations left from celebrating Vietnamese New Year.

Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).
Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).

As you can see, the outdoor “art installations” didn’t really match the ancient buildings.

Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).
Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).

It was kind of cheesy to have Mickey and Minnie Mouse in there. It’s like having Starbucks or McDonalds in the middle of the Great Wall of China. 😀

Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).
Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).

The Citadel was the seat of government for 13 centuries! With that in mind, you would think there’s a lot to see! But, duh, I was really disappointed. I didn’t stay long.

Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).
Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).

It was in the site where I learned that Hanoi’s former name was Dai La and then renamed it Than Long. Thus the name of the Citadel.

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi
Tourist attractions in Hanoi (Vietnam).

At one point in history, the area was a huge prison camp for the French soldiers captured by the Japanese Army.

Other Sites in the Area

Since you are already here, walk to Vietnam Military History Museum or to Ho Chi Minh Memorial Mausoleum. Check out this blog post.

The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi
The Imperial Citadel of Than Long in Hanoi

Where to Stay in Hanoi

I stayed at Little Hanoi Hostel in the Old Quarter. They have bunk beds and rooms for those who want privacy complete with a bathtub. Take note that you are in the Old Quarter so you don’t expect 5-star quality accommodation. Most buildings are old and the pipes are rusty. This hostel, however, looks fine to me – though it would have been better if I were assigned in a room with a window. The staff members are nice and they helped me book an airline ticket and taxi to the airport. You can find everything around the hostel and it is walking distance to everything you want to see in Hanoi. You can also book it via BookingTripAdvisorExpedia, and HostelWorld.

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