Wednesday, 22 Nov 2017
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Son Tay Ancient Citadel keeps memory time
Updated at Thursday, 22 Jun 2017, 09:16
Under the mossy layer tinged with time, Son Tay ancient citadel still embraces a hue of the tranquil antiquity, holding copious historical merits of the Son Tay land in days of yore. 

About 45km to the west of Hanoi, Son Tay Ancient Citadel is located in Son Tay District, surrounded by the two ancient villages of Thuan Nghe and Mai Trai. Son Tay Citadel was built under the Nguyen Dynasty during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang in 1822. This citadel was uniquely designed: the wall was built entirely with bee-stones (laterite), a special material from Xu Doai, while four gates were constructed entirely with ancient bricks. 

​The structure is a quadrangular one, with a trapezoidal cross section; each side is 40 meters long, the wall is 5 meters high and 4 meters wide. The holes at the top of the wall are hiding places for the soldiers, allowing them to shoot or attack the enemy using spears or broadswords. The citadel has four main gates facing east, south, west and north, namely the Front (Tien), the Back (Hau), the Right (Huu) and the Left (Ta). Each entrance has a guard tower. In the past, the citadel was surrounded by a moat that connected to the Tich Giang river at the southwestern corner of the rampart. At that time, this was an important military forefront to protect northwestern of old Thang Long.

In 1884, the French military army occupied the citadel and in 1924, Martial Henri Merlin, Governor-General of French Indochina, issued a decree to rank the ancient citadel as a relic. In December 1946, the Government of Vietnam Democratic Republic held an important meeting in the citadel.

After nearly 200 years, most of the Son Tay Ancient Citadel has been destroyed by wars and time. Only a few relics are left, including some stretches of the citadel walls, the citadel gates, guard towers, Kinh Thien’s Palace grounds, wells and two cannons.

Because of its cultural and historical value, in 1994, the Ministry of Culture and Information recognized the Son Tay Ancient Citadel as a National Architectural Historical Relic. In 2009, Hanoi People’s Committee issued a decision to upgrade and restore some relics in the ancient citadel to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi.

Despite various destructions, the Son Tay Ancient Citadel remains a majestic and antique expression of a glorious history of Vietnam. Along with numerous historical - cultural work items restored and remodeled, Son Tay Ancient Citadel is increasingly attractive to a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. It significantly contributes to promote a beautiful image of Hanoi to international friends.

Vong lau (Flagpole) with 18 meters height. The citadel has a style of Vauban architectural style – type of military buildings named after Vauban – a French engineer
Vong lau (Flagpole) with 18 meters height. The citadel has a style of Vauban architectural style – type of military buildings named after Vauban – a French engineer
 
 
The citadel was built mainly from laterite
The citadel was built mainly from laterite

 
According to the bibliography, the citadel was built very solidly with the main task of protecting the northwestern area of Thang Long
According to the bibliography, the citadel was built very solidly with the main task of protecting the northwestern area of Thang Long
 
One of the entrance. With each gates there are a guard tower and two cannons in the front. Nowadays, there is only two cannons located in the northern gate
One of the entrance. With each gates there are a guard tower and two cannons in the front. Nowadays, there is only two cannons located in the northern gate
 
Touring the ancient citadel, tourists will no doubt be impressed by the image of hundred-year-old trees giving shade all year around, its scabrous roots embrace the mossy walls and ruined citadel gates, which create an ancient beauty. It is the unique characteristics that has turned the ancient citadel into one of the most impressive attraction in Hanoi
Touring the ancient citadel, tourists will no doubt be impressed by the image of hundred-year-old trees giving shade all year around, its scabrous roots embrace the mossy walls and ruined citadel gates, which create an ancient beauty. It is the unique characteristics that has turned the ancient citadel into one of the most impressive attraction in Hanoi

 
 


Nguyen Tung
Photo: Minh Chi – Hoang Hang
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