THE CITADEL AND VIETNAM WAR- AND HO CHI MINH-RELATED SIGHTS IN HANOI

HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM

HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM (Ba Dinh Square, Ba Dinh District) is an enormous monolithic structure where the embalmed body of Uncle Ho lies in state inside a plexiglas case like Mao's body in Beijing and Lenin's body in Moscow. Designed by Soviet architects and modeled after Lenin's tomb in Moscow, the building is 70 feet tall and is constructed from grey granite and marble. It was built near the place where Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam in 1945.

The body—which reportedly has an artificial nose, because the original one fell off—is refrigerated and rests on a platform, three feet above the floor. It is watched over by four guards and many Vietnamese are moved to tears when they lay eyes on it. Once a year the body is sent of to Moscow where it is taken care by the same technicians who maintain Lenin's body.

Visitors wearing shorts, tank tops, and hats are not admitted to the mausoleum and a "respectful demeanor must be maintained at all times." Tickets are purchased at the entrance to Ho Chi Minh Park and bags are left at a small place outside the park. Foreigners don't have to wait in line like ordinary Vietnamese citizens, they are escorted to the front of the line by a Vietnamese soldier.

When enough foreigners have assembled a guard escorts them through the entrance of mausoleum, where a sign has Ho's most famous slogan: "Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom." Visitors are not allowed to talk or take pictures or linger for long over the body. You can't even scrutinize the body carefully without a guard in brown uniform giving you a dirty look or nudging your elbow. The whole process takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Sometimes there is a changing of the guard ceremony outside the mausoleum.

Describing his visit to the mausoleum, New York Times correspondent Philip Shenon wrote: "Up a separate staircase within the structure I found myself in a cavernous room bathed in a ghostly, pinkish light. At the center of the room beneath a Vietnamese flag, was the glass sarcophagus bearing Ho's frail body. Ho's wispy white beard had been carefully groomed and set on a stiff grey shirt. His hands had a waxy sheen and were crossed over his chest."

Like Mao, Ho Chi Minh did not want his body displayed in a mausoleum. In his will, which is available in an English translation at most Hanoi bookstores, he asked that his body be cremated, and the ashes be spread at three sites—in north, south and central Vietnam—and marked with simple wooden memorials surrounded by shade trees for visitors. After his death in 1969, the Communist party released a falsified version of the will and built the mausoleum.

The construction of the Mausoleum started in September 1973, on the foundations of the old rostrum in Ba Dinh Square where president Ho Chi Minh used to chair national meetings. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum was completed nearly two years later on August 29, 1975. Engraved on the front of the Mausoleum is Chu Tich Ho Chi Minh, meaning "President Ho Chi Minh". Uncle Ho's dead body dressed in faded khaki clothes and plain rubber shoes.

HO CHI MINH HOUSE, MUSEUM AND PARK

HO CHI MINH PARK (Ba Dinh Square, Ba Dinh District) is a huge park containing the Hi Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh's house and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. The park is bisected by a large avenue. Not far from the mausoleum in the Ba Dihn neighborhood is the wreckage of U.S. war plane that crashed into a pool in the Vietnam War. It has largely been untouched.

Ho Chi Minh Museum (3 Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; near Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum in Ho Chi Minh Park) is housed in a cavernous white marble building. Many of the displays are modern and symbolic. The failure of the American effort, for example, is illustrated in one room with a Ford Edsel bursting through a wall. The museum is a four-story building covering a total area of 100 hectares and designed in the shape of a lotus flower as a symbol of President Ho's noble character. This museum was completed on 9 May 1990 for the 100th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's birthday.

The main showroom displays 117,274 documents, articles, pictures and exhibits illustrating the historical events that took place during President Ho Chi Minh's life, as well as important events that occurred in the rest of the world since the end of the 19th century. The museum contains other rooms such as a library, a large hall, meeting rooms and research rooms. The museum is open from 8:00am to 11:00 am and 1.30pm to 4.30 pm daily except Monday and Friday. Photography is forbidden. Cameras and bags must be left at the reception. Entrance ticket costs 5,000VND.

Ho Chi Minh's House (in Ba Dinh District, 15 minute walk from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum) is a small, modest house where Uncle Ho lived. Reportedly made from the least expensive wood possible, it is near the opulent colonial President place where he refused to live. The room where Ho Chi Minh died, it is said, has been left exactly as it was when he died. The pond near the house is where he raised carp.

The stilt house is located in a large garden at the back of the Presidential Palace. A nice road covered with pebbles and bordered with mango trees lead to it. Uncle Ho used it as his residence and office from May 1958 until his death. The perfume of jasmine flowers and roses is omnipresent. At the back is a garden of fruit trees, where the luxuriant milk fruit tree donated to Uncle Ho by his southern compatriots in 1954 stands between two lines of Hai Hung orange trees. Other valuable trees belonging to more than 30 species supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Forestry, and several provinces represent the wide variety of trees growing in Vietnam. There are also trees imported from foreign countries, such as Ngan Hoa trees, miniature rose bushes, areca trees from the Caribbean, Buddhist bamboo trees, etc. Dozens of varieties of beautifully hang from the trees which blossom all year round.

Many people know the story of how Uncle Ho came to live in a small stilt-house rather than a grand palace. But it is worth retelling. Ho Chi Minh was never one for large houses and comfortable living. He was just 21 when, in 1911, he set out to travel "the five continents and the four oceans" to seek ways of saving his country. For 30 years he lived a nomadic life, changing addresses constantly. When he came back to Vietnam in 1941, he led the revolution against colonial rule and read the country’s historic Declaration of Independence at Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi on September 2, 1945. Not long afterwards, the French attempted to reassert control of their former dominion, and Ho Chi Minh and his generals were forced into the north-western mountains. During the resistance war of 1946-54, Uncle Ho reverted to his nomadic ways, for the only means of avoiding detection and capture was to live life constantly on the run. He moved from one hide-out to another several times a month, and only lived in stilt-houses. When the war was won in 1954, the Party, Government and Ho Chi Minh came back to Hanoi. But Uncle Ho eschewed the trappings of authority. A true egalitarian, he chose to live a simple life: he wore brown cotton garments and rubber sandals made from car tyros, and lived in a worker’s cottage out the back of the Presidential Palace. In 1958, Uncle Ho revisited the former resistance base in the north-west and saw some of the stilt-houses where he had spent the war years. When he got back to Hanoi, he said he wanted a similar stilt-house built on the grounds of the Presidential Palace itself. The Party commissioned an architect from the Department for Army Barracks to design the house, but told him to submit his plans to Uncle Ho for comment before work began. The initial design had three rooms, including a toilet. But Uncle Ho wanted the house to remain faithful to the real thing. "The stilt-house must have only one or two rooms, small rooms at that, and definitely no toilet," he said. The architect amended the designs, and the stilt-house that Ho Chi Minh moved into on May 17, 1958, had two rooms of just 10 square meter each. He lived and worked there for the remaining 11 years of his life.

Today, the stilt-house and its furnishings have been preserved must as they were in the 1960s. In the area under the house, Ho Chi Minh would receive visitors and meet members of the Political Bureau. In the center of the floor is a long table, with wooden and bamboo chairs around it. Uncle Ho used a rattan armchair in the left-hand corner to sit and read, or rest. In another corner are three telephones that he used to talk to the Political Bureau, the Operations Department and others, and a steel helmet that he wore during the years of the American War.

In the right-hand corner, he kept an aquarium with goldfish to amuse visiting children. The two rooms of the stilt-house are sparsely furnished. One, the bedroom, contains only a bed and wardrobe. The other, the study, houses a table, chair and bookshelf. His appliances were just the bare necessities: a palm-leaf fan, a brown paper fan, a bamboo mosquito catcher, a little thermos-flask, a bottle of water, a radio-set given by Vietnamese nationals in Thailand, and a small electric fan---a gift from the Communist Party of Japan. A little brass bell used to hang on the door. In the stilt-house, Uncle Ho received top cadres, children and his close friends. He spent most of his time writing letters, revolutionary articles encouraging "good people, good deeds," and documents of great historical value on important political tasks such as his 1966 Call against US Imperialism, for National Salvation. Plants and trees were grown in the area around the stilt-house, as Uncle Ho was a poet with a great love for nature and pet animals. The garden is bordered with hibiscus, and the gate of climbing plants is typical of rural Vietnam. The front garden is decorated with little bushes of fragrant jasmines and eglantines, while at the rear is a stand of star-fruit trees from the country’s south. Spring sends the garden into a colourful riot of mangoes, white blossoms, and orchids. Uncle Ho regularly practiced martial arts and taichi with the guards in the garden, also the place where he once conducted people singing the famous song Unity, like a real orchestra conductor. In front of the stilt-house is his fish-pond, teeming with fish that he fed with great care. He only had to clap his hands and they came in shoals for food. The house clearly reveals his humility, his erudition and his love of simplicity and nature.

As late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong once wrote: "It is not merely a landscape, but a way of life; it speaks of a priceless joy that the current civilization seems deprived of, with its polluted mega-cities and cluttered high-rise apartments. Today, visitors flock to the stilt-house to remember what kind of a man Uncle Ho was, and to celebrate his memory - a man of sophisticated intellect yet simple pleasures, of revolutionary ideas yet of peaceful disposition.

VIETNAM WAR SIGHTS IN HANOI

Cat Barton of AFP wrote: “A small plaque next to Hanoi's Truc Bach Lake marks the spot where US Senator John McCain was shot down as a navy pilot and dragged ashore to become a prisoner of war -- one of 10 American planes to be downed by anti-aircraft gunners on just one day in 1967. Tourists can also visit the so-called "Hanoi Hilton", where American POWs like McCain were held. While much of the Hoa Lo Prison was demolished, sections of it, including the gatehouse, remain open as a museum. [Source: Cat Barton, AFP, October 9, 2012]

Not all of Hanoi's war relics are memorials. On the shore of the city's West Lake one family has transformed a former French armaments store into a popular café. "This cafe has a special style because of historic values. When people come here, they are more curious about history," cafe owner Vu Thi Huong told AFP. In other parts of the city, the wartime history has been absorbed into the scenery. A small shrine on Yen Ninh-Hang Bun street marks the spot where French soldiers opened fire on a market killing dozens of civilians in an incident that is believed to have triggered the first Indochina War in 1946. The name of the shrine means 'deep hatred' in Vietnamese and was a popular word used during the war. But today this shrine is famous for another reason -- delicious noodles."People here call it 'Hatred shrine' noodle stall," owner Do Thi Yen told AFP. "Sometime we need to be grateful to the dead. They brought customers to me so I'm grateful to them," Yen added.

Other business owners are hoping to cash in on wartime nostalgia -- a new themed restaurant in Hanoi, called the "State-run Food Shop number 37", takes customers back to the days of food rationing. For around 25 dollars, you can get an authentic 1970s-style meal for six, served to you by staff wearing uniforms from the actual state-run shops of the period, in a restaurant packed with war-era memorabilia. "A good place for the old to remember the difficult era and (for) the youth to understand a historic period -- though the dishes are not all delicious," a September review in the official Vietnam News Agency said.

Lenin Park (near the History of Military Museum) is the largest but by no means the nicest park in Hanoi. It contains a monumental statue of Lenin, well-maintained gardens and quite a bit of military hardware, including a MIG-21, SA-2 surface-to-air missiles, an armored truck, an early-warning radar unit and the tail of B-52 with nine aircraft guns pointed at it. Sometimes there is a photographer who charges 50 cents for photographs with a human-size stuffed Mickey Mouse.

West Lake (Thanh Nien Road, Tay Ho District) is surrounded by million-dollar homes owned by entrepreneurs rich from joint ventures with foreigners. Here there is a small monument honoring Hanoi resident who helped seek out and find shot-down American pilots. The concrete monument stands beside the lake, depicting an American pilot, hands raised in surrender. A plaque misspells U.S. Senator John McCain's name and lists his branch of service as the Air Force (he was in the navy)

METROPOLE HOTEL AND VIETNAM WAR BUNKERS

Ho Chi Minh's Bunker and D67 Underground Command Center (within the area of Kinh Thien Palace in Hanoi’s Citadel) was used by North Vietnam’s top leaders in the Vietnam War. Margie Mason of Associated Press wrote: "Behind thick concrete walls and iron doors, Ho Chi Minh and other top North Vietnamese leaders took cover in secret underground tunnels during U.S. bombing raids and plotted key military strategies that led to America's defeat in the Vietnam War... The bunker used by Ho, his military leader, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, and others is in the same building where the 1968 Tet offensive and the fall of Saigon in 1975 were planned from about 30 feet below the surface. [Source: By Margie Mason, Associated Press, October 28, 2004 \\\\]

"The communist military, with help from the Soviets, built its headquarters there in 1967. It housed an elaborate tunnel system, including the underground bunker, which has narrow submarine-style corridors and vaulted metal doors leading into two larger rooms. During U.S. bombing raids, Politburo members and top military brass took cover there and held meetings. Vietnam's Defense Ministry occupied the property until recently, relocating to another site and turning part of the area over to the city of Hanoi. Only a small underground section of the bunker was opened to the public, with most of the tunnels remaining closed and classified. \\\\

"No one knows how long (the tunnels are)," said professor Le Van Lan, a historian with in-depth knowledge of the site. "It's a secret. There's many legends that they go to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum." An army blanket and a simple wooden bed where Giap, now 93, sometimes napped is also on display in his old office along with antique phones used to communicate with his staff and other officials. "It's a very simple room, but from that room, the Vietnamese military strategists issued big decisions for the liberation and unification of the country,'' said Truong Khanh Hao, 71, a veteran who fought the French and the Americans. "It's a pride for all Vietnamese that we have these relics.'' \\\\

Metropole Hotel (in the French Quarter, near the Hanoi Opera House) was restored in 1992. Millions of dollars were spent on the effort. Formerly a hangout for communist revolutionaries, it could be mistaken for one of Paris's best hotels. Many of the guests are foreigners. On the reopening of the Metropole cafe in 2006, Reuters reported: “After a 95-year absence, a sidewalk cafe that was part of "little Paris of the tropics" has reopened at the famous luxury Metropole Hotel in the heart of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. La Terrasse du Metropole duplicates the look of a Parisian street cafe on one corner of the white facaded hotel that has a room named for late English author Graham Greene, who wrote about the last days of French colonial rule in 1950s Vietnam. [Source: Reuters - May 11, 2006]

"Our customers cannot always experience the real life of Hanoi and with this terrace they will be able to enjoy our service and meet Vietnamese people," said Gilles Cretallaz, 41, general manager of Sofitel Metropole Hotel as it is now named. The old Metropole Cafe closed after just 10 years in 1911. The hotel, which opened in 1901, was a gathering point for high society a century ago and it was referred to as "little Paris of the tropics" according to travel guides.

"We hope this time we will be able to keep this terrace open," Cretallaz said as motorcycles whizzed by on the road outside. On opening night, the cafe received its first guests including ambassadors to the communist-run Southeast Asian country. Before the opening, Hanoi authorities asked the hotel to make security changes because it is close to some embassies and a government building used for official events. The establishment will face competition from several other sidewalk cafes that are increasingly popular among Vietnamese.

Vietnam-Era Bunker Below the Metropole Hotel has been preserved in its original state and is open for tours for guests. Go down an unassuming stairway between the pool and outdoor bar and you’ll find yourself in an old air-raid shelter. In October 2012, Cat Barton of AFP wrote: “From Hollywood starlets to scruffy trade union delegations, an unassuming reinforced concrete bunker under a central Hanoi hotel has sheltered communist Vietnam's most important wartime guests. Sealed off and forgotten after hostilities ended in 1975, the dank subterranean passages were unearthed during recent renovation work at the hotel, now favoured by foreign tourists and wealthy Vietnamese. "I felt a little bit like Indiana Jones discovering the Temple of Doom or something," said Kai Speth, general manager of the Metropole Hotel, describing when he first entered the seven-room bunker, which was knee-deep in water.[Source: Cat Barton, AFP, October 9, 2012]

There were always rumours that the bunker -- no more than 20 square meters (215 square feet) in size -- was under the swimming pool bar, he said. "So I told the team when we were rebuilding the foundations of the bar: 'let's dig a little deeper'." The bunker was built in 1968 when the hotel, then known as the Thong Nhat, was a drab, government-run establishment used by the communist authorities to house visiting delegations, including a string of prominent American anti-war activists.

Actress Jane Fonda and folk singer Joan Baez both used the shelter, with Baez recording a song in it during the Christmas bombings in December 1972, when the US dropped some 20,000 tones of ordnance in 11 days. More than 1,600 civilians died in the attack, and Baez's 21-minute recording "Where Are You Now My Son", made in the concrete passages, captures some of the sounds of wartime Hanoi. "You can hear the bombs falling. You can hear the anti-air(craft) machine guns going off that were mounted on the Opera House" near the hotel, Speth said.

Fonda arrived after the Christmas Bombings, her then interpreter Tran Minh Quoc told AFP, but was caught in several raids during her controversial tour of the country which earned her the nickname "Hanoi Jane" back in the States. "We could hear the bombing from afar and we together went down to the bunker... The American air force never hit the hotel. (Fonda) was very calm... She didn't show any fear," he said.

The bunker at the Metropole is one of thousands of similar bomb shelters dug across Hanoi during the decades-long conflict. Most have since been filled in, but one other famous site remains -- behind the walls of Thang Long Citadel lies a bunker where former key leaders General Vo Nguyen Giap and president Ho Chi Minh once sheltered from bomb attacks.

MUSEUMS RELATED TO THE VIETNAM WAR

Vietnam History Museum (No. 1 Trang Tien Street, behind the Hanoi Opera House, near the Metropole hotel) is located in a French villa built in 1930. Established by French archaeologists, it features numerous artifacts from the Dong Son civilization, also known as Lac Viet, the purported ancestors of modern Vietnamese. Interesting pieces include a set of huge bronze drums inscribed with images of deer hunts, fishing boats with images of copulating frogs and humans, and glazed ceramics decorated with colorful flowers, fish, dragons and fireflies from the Ly and Tran dynasties, which ruled Vietnam shortly after it became a kingdom in the 10th century.

The museum has an area of 2,000 square meters for exhibition. On the ground floor are theme rooms, including Prehistory, Vietnam from the Time of National Building to the Tran Dynasty. The second floor features Vietnam from the Ho Dynasty to the Nguyen Dynasty and contains a section on Cham Culture.

Nearly 7,000 objects and documents depict vividly the long process of development of the Vietnamese community, its undaunted and heroic struggle for thousand years, from its early history up to the August Revolution in 1945. The system of computers installed on the second floor is intended for visitors to search for information effectively.Visiting hours: From 8:00am to 11:30am and from 1:30pm to 4:30pm, closed Mondays. Admission 15,000 VND.

History of Military Museum (No. 28A Dien Bien Phu Street, Hoan Kiem District) is located in group of refurbished French military barracks. Honoring 1,000 years of Vietnamese military history, the museum houses huge dioramas of the capture of Saigon in 1975, the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and the Vietnamese victory over the Mongols in 1287. There is also a collection of rare Viet Minh posters, an exhibition on the "American War," including a container filled the flight helmets taken from American flyers shot down over North Vietnam, and a display commemorating Vietnam's victory of China in the 1979 border war.

Underneath a tree on the museum grounds are a surface-to-air missile launcher and a Soviet-built MIG-21 placed over the remains of B-52 bomber shot down over Hanoi. A sign on the MIG claims it shot down 12 American planes. In 1992, the museum archives turned over numerous documents to the U.S. government to help account for over 2,000 missing in action troops. There is also an interesting display of booby traps.

The Military History Museum is housed in former French expeditionary barracks. Founded in 1958, it covers 10,000 square meters and is divided into 30 showrooms. The content of the museum covers 6 periods: 1) The history of the Vietnamese nation and the birth of the Vietnam People’s Army. 2) The Vietnamese struggle against French colonialism. 3) The Vietnamese struggle against American imperialists. 4) The Vietnam People’s Army on the path to a regular modern army. 5) The People and the Army are oneness - they will be invincible. 6) Piece of weaponry displayed in the museum courtyard (airplanes, tanks, heavy artilleries, rockets, mortars, bombs, etc. Visiting hours: From 8:00am to 11:30 and from 13:30 to 16:00 all days. Entry price is 10,000VND.

REMNANTS OF THE HANOI HILTON

HANOI HILTON (at the Hanoi Towers hotel and shopping complex in the French Quarter) was the nickname of Hoa Lo Prison, where shot-down American pilots and other American prisoners of war languished for up to eight years during the Vietnam War. Built in 1912 by the French, it was surrounded by a electric barbed fence and yellow walls topped with pieces of broken glass. Vietnamese revolutionaries captured by the French were imprisoned in Hoa La during the war with France in the 1940s and 50s. They called it Hoa Lo, or the furnace, because the cell blocks were unbearable hot.

The prison was used through the 1990s, and finally torn down in December 1994 to make way for a $60 million, 22-story hotel and office complex called Hanoi Towers. Around it are upscale shops and condominiums. Some former Vietnamese inmates and American POWs wanted the prison preserved as a memorial. A few original walls were left standing and Hanoi Towers has a museum with objects from the old prison. There is now a real Hilton hotel called the Hanoi Hilton.

Several cell blocks were saved at a museum called Prison Museum. Each of the cells is fitted with shackles. In the courtyard is a guillotine. In a glass display case you can see the helmet, oxygen mask and a flight suit of Sen. John McCain ( he denies they're his, the placard states he “now a Senator in the US House of Representatives”) and Douglas Peterson, the first U.S. Ambassador to post-war Vietnam.

Anthony Faiola wrote in Washington Post, “A place of torture and suffering for almost a century -- first for Vietnamese political prisoners and thieves during French colonial times, then for American troops during the Vietnam War -- Hoa Lo has become a hot tourist attraction in a profoundly changed Vietnam. It draws not only overseas tourists but curious locals as well. Giang Phu and Nhung Thi Tian, 23-year-old college students in Hanoi, did not have to travel very far to see Hoa Lo. At 2 p.m., they are in front of its in-house guillotine, which was used to dispatch death row inmates during French rule. "The French, like the Americans, invaded Vietnam," Giang says, in a room filled with the smell of wood and cold, rusting metal. She rubs the goose bumps forming on her slender arms as she speaks. [Source: Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, October 25, 2006]

Most of the prison was knocked down in 1993, when investors from Singapore wanted to make way for luxury apartments, shops and office space. The rest was polished, buffed and opened to the public. The quarters where American prisoners were housed, officials here say, were part of the sold-off parcels. Today, most of the museum is dedicated to the memory of Vietnamese freedom fighters who resisted the French in the early 20th century. Oil paintings depict Vietnamese national heroes being tortured to death for their alleged crimes.

The legacy of the several hundred American POWs housed here from 1964 to 1973 is contained in two small rooms toward the outer edge of the prison museum. Propaganda photos underscore Vietnamese claims that U.S. prisoners were treated with utmost dignity. American soldiers are depicted receiving gifts from guards and attending Christian religious services. Encased in glass is the flight suit of Hoa Lo's most famous former resident -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has written of his horrific years of daily interrogations and torture here. Captured after being shot down in his A-4 Skyhawk while on a bombing run of Hanoi on Oct. 26, 1967, McCain spent two years in solitary confinement. Like other former POWs who have revisited this place in search of closure or catharsis, he came back here in 2000, the 25th anniversary of the war's end.

HANOI CITADEL

THE CITADEL (Dien Bien and Quan Thanh wards, Ba Dinh District, near the History of Military Museum) is built on a site that was said to have been occupied by the ancient kingdom of Au Lac in the 3rd century B.C. Only small remnants of the complex, which covered three square miles, remain. The citadel, according to legend, was built on a site where a king committed suicide after his magic bow (given to him by a divine turtle) was stolen by his daughter. The site was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

Though The Citdael has survived to for may centuries many of the original buildings no longer exist. However, relics and artefacts excavated from the site have somehow helped revive the former appearance of Thang Long and provided an insight into the existence and evolvement of the land of an ascending dragon over the past 10 centuries.

According to UNESCO: The Thang Long Imperial Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty, marking the independence of the Dai Viet. It was constructed on the remains of a Chinese fortress dating from the 7th century, on drained land reclaimed from the Red River Delta in Hanoi. It was the center of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. The Imperial Citadel buildings and the remains in the 18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site reflect a unique South-East Asian culture specific to the lower Red River Valley, at the crossroads between influences coming from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south.[Source: UNESCO]

The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long -- Hanoi, located in the heart of the capital of Viet Nam, is the most important and best-preserved part of the ancient Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is characterized by its longevity and continuity as a seat of power, evidenced by different archaeological levels and monuments.

The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi bears witness to the meeting of influences coming mainly from China in the north and the Kingdom of Champa in the south. It expresses a set of intercultural exchanges which shaped a unique culture in the lower Red River Valley. It also bears witness to the long cultural tradition of the Viêt populations established in the Delta and the lower Red River Valley. It was a continuous seat of power from the 7th century through to the present day.

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long at Hanoi, with its political function and symbolic role, is directly associated with numerous and important cultural and historical events, and leading artistic expressions and moral, philosophical, and religious ideas. The succession of these events marks the formative and development process of an independent nation over more than a thousand years, including the colonial period and the two contemporary Wars of Independence and reunification of Viet Nam.

The degree of authenticity expressed by the architecture of Thang Long corresponds to buildings of the late 19th and the 20th centuries. Older buildings, dating back to the dynastic periods, notably the Doan Mon Gate and the Hau Lau Palace, have been restored and modified. However, these changes are related to the political history of the property.

HISTORY OF THE CITADEL

The Viet or Kinh, the majority ethnic group in contemporary Vietnam, see themselves as a people that go back to the creation of the world, for which they have their own cosmogony. According to legend the foundation of the Empire dates back to the 3rd millennium B.C., when some fifteen kings and queens met to elect the first Emperor of the Nam Viet (the lands of the southern Viet). [Source: UNESCO]

In the 6th century B.C. an independent kingdom was established, known as Van Lang, which straddled modern Guandong and northern Vietnam. The earliest written evidence indicating permanent human settlement in the Red River Delta dates from 211 B.C. A rural society with extensive hydraulic knowledge developed here, at the crossroads of cultural influences from the Chinese area to the north and civilizations in South-East and southern Asia.

Under the pressure of the Han Dynasty, the Viet Kingdom was reduced to the lower Red River Valley, which was finally conquered in 111 B.C. It then became one of the kingdoms of the southern marches of the Chinese Empire, and remained under its political and cultural control for almost one thousand years. The last phase of this long period of Vietnamese history is referred to as the Dai La Period. It was at this time that the first Chinese citadel was erected on the site of Hanoi, as indicated by the presence of wells and remains from the 7th-10th centuries CE.

Chinese domination of the Delta and the lower Red River Valley ended in the 10th century with the return of an autonomous dynasty (Dinh-Le) and the establishment of the independent Kingdom of Dai Viet in the lower Red River Valley. The development of a new citadel, Thang Long, on the site where the former had stood, confirmed this independence in the early 11th century (Ly Dynasty). The Citadel surrounded the enlarged Forbidden City built in brick in 1029 and was itself surrounded by a defensive wall. As the seat of power and the royal residence, a Chinese layout was adopted for the Citadel. It does, however, also illustrate the geomantic principles specific to Viet history and culture.

At the same time as the Dai Viet Kingdom asserted itself at the end of the A.D. 1st millennium, the Kingdom of Champa, a people with cultural influences from the Indian Ocean, developed in the center and south of modern Vietnam. It was in contact with the powerful and rapidly expanding Khmer Empire, and it was an essential link between the spread in South-East Asia of cultures from India and southern Asia, Buddhism in particular.

The long history of this region of the lower Red River, and especially the Citadel that forms the nominated property, is characterized by the continuous interaction between Viet peoples and the various Chinese dynasties and their Confucian and Taoist traditions, and also with the Kingdom of Champa to the south, marked byBuddhist traditions. It was an essentially agrarian civilization, with considerable expertise in drainage, dykes, and agricultural hydraulics.

Buddhist culture spread during the Ly (1010-1225) and Tran (1225-1400) Dynasties and played an essential role in the development of institutions and social and religious life. The Dai Viet Kingdom extended its influence and expanded. A change to the Le Dynasty (1428-1789) led to a return to Confucian values and to more rapid development, especially in the 15th century. Hanoi was at this time one of the most important South- East Asian ports. The erection of Kinh Thien Palace, in the heart of the Forbidden City, marked the apogee of the architecture and urban planning of the Viet culture itself. The Citadel reached its maximum size in the 16th- 17th centuries, whilst a district of artisans and traders serving the rulers also developed. Thang Long Citadel, and especially the Forbidden City, played an essentially political and administrative role, along with the expression of royal etiquette. It was also the period of conquest of the Kingdom of Champa to the south, giving the dynasty a truly Imperial dimension.

However, a political change gradually took place, starting in the mid-17th century. The Emperor played an increasingly symbolic role, with the real power being exercised by two powerful families, the Trinh in the north and the Nguyen in the south. The latter prevailed at the beginning of the 18th century and established a new dynasty, with its new capital in the more centrally located Hué. Thang Long still remained the northern Citadel, the Emperor's residence when travelling to the region. Its fortification system was rebuilt (1805), based on the European model of Vauban.

French colonial troops were present in modern southern Vietnam from the 1860s onwards. They undertook the conquest of the north in the 1880s. Thang Long once again became the center of power. It was in particular the headquarters of the colonial power for the vast regional ensemble of French Indochina (modern Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia). Many palaces were rebuilt in a European style, generally Neoclassical, such as Kinh Thien Palace, the former heart of the Forbidden City (1886). The Governor's Palace (in the buffer zone) was built and the fortifications were razed so as to permit a European type of urban development, including wide boulevards around and within the ancient Citadel (end of the 19th century).

After the First War of Independence (1954) and the division of Vietnam into two entities, the Viet Min power settled in Hanoi and the ancient Forbidden City became the military headquarters for North Vietnam. During the Second War, against South Vietnam and the United States,the D67 underground command bunker was installed within the area of Kinh Thien Palace (1967). The Ministry of Defence gradually abandoned its use of the property between 1994 and 2004, handing it over for cultural and historic uses. The site at 18 Hoang Dieu Street, initially chosen for the construction of the National Assembly, was found to be of exceptional archaeological value (2002). The project was maintained, but on a smaller portion of the initial site.

Lost Citadel Found in Hanoi : In 2005, Dana Sachs and Le Quang Vu wrote in National Geographic, “A few years ago the Vietnamese government began planning a new national assembly house to be located in central Hanoi, an area of the city they knew had once been the seat of power for imperial Vietnam. When ground was broken, the builders of the country's future found artifacts spanning 1,300 years of its past. The Hanoi site has proved the most productive archaeological dig ever undertaken in the country. Among the millions of artifacts uncovered are many from the legendary Thang Long Citadel, an elaborate arrangement of palaces and meeting halls that for centuries lay at the center of Vietnamese culture and society. [Source: Dana Sachs and Le Quang Vu, National Geographic, June 2005 <+>]

“Unicorn heads of carved marble, celadon platters, roof ornaments, and ceramic tiles and bricks—even the bones of elephants, the workhorses of an earlier era—speak to the past glories of Vietnam. The excavation layers extend down 14 feet (four meters), and the oldest ruins discovered, those of brick-lined wells, date back to the seventh century A.D., when this Red River Delta region was under Chinese control. That control ended in the tenth century; in the eleventh construction of the Thang Long Citadel began. "We've known from ancient texts that this part of the city was where the palaces and temples of the inner court were located," says Cornell University historian Keith Taylor, an expert on ancient Vietnam. The new findings, he says, "give concrete form to what had been simply imagination." <+>

“While only a fraction of the site has been excavated, preliminary reports are already shedding new light on the cultural and political past of Vietnam. Particularly important are the discoveries from the 11th through 15th centuries, when Vietnamese culture was at its peak under the Ly and Tran dynasties. Other artifacts speak to a long history of cultural exchange with the outside world. The most recent finds include 19th-century French wine bottles from the colonial period, which lasted until the mid-20th century. <+>

“To contemporary Vietnamese many of the citadel's artifacts must look familiar. A 15th-century pottery bowl bears a remarkable resemblance to bowls still produced in Bat Trang, a village on the outskirts of Hanoi that still ferries its ceramics to markets along the Red River. The village has a 500-year history as a ceramic- and brick-making center, and Bat Trang bricks have been unearthed at the imperial citadel site. "Bricks from the kilns of my family, the Tran family, are said to be the best in Bat Trang," says Tran Van Do, who operates a brick-and-ceramic factory in the village. "Our bricks used to be the first choice of the royal citadel builders." He also sees a clear connection between the ceramics of earlier generations and those of his own generation, but he admits that "Our ceramics are not as soulful and emotional as those of our ancestors. We still have a lot to learn from them." <+>

CENTRAL SECTOR OF THE IMPERIAL CITADEL OF THANG LONG

CENTRAL SECTOR OF THE IMPERIAL CITADEL OF THANG LONG (part of The Citadel) covers an area of 20 hectares, includes archaeological area at 18 Hoang Dieu Street and relics in Hanoi Citadel such as: Bac Mon, Doan Mon, Hau Lau, stone dragons in Kinh Thien Palace, dragon house, house D67 and Hanoi flag tower. These relics are surrounded by 4 streets: Phan Dinh Phung Street in the north, Dien Bien Phu Street in the south, Nguyen Tri Phuong Street in the east and Hoang Dieu Street in the west. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism]

In 1009, Ly Cong Uan was enthroned, founded Ly Dynasty. In July, 1010, the king promulgated Chieu Doi Do (the royal decree) to change the capital city from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Dai La Citadel. After transferring the capital city, Ly Cong Uan had Citadel of Thang Long built and the citadel construction was finished in early 1011. The ancient Citadel of Thang Long was encircled by three incorporated forts. The outer fort was Kinh Thanh (Imperial City), where the general public lived. Surrounded by the Hong, To Lich and Kim Nguu rivers, Kinh Thanh acted as a dyke system for the capital city. The second fort (the middle ring) was Hoang Thanh (Imperial Citadel), where the royal court, offices and residence of mandarins were located. The smallest and most inner enclosure was Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden City) where the king, queens and concubines lived in seclusion.

The Citadel of Thang Long was repaired and had many new works in Tran Dynasty and expanded in Le So Dynasty. From 1516 to 1788 in dynasties of Mac and Le Trung Hung, the Citadel of Thang Long was destroyed many times. In early 1789, King Quang Trung transferred the capital city to Phu Xuan, the Citadel of Thang Long only acted as Bac Thanh (the northern defensive fortification). In Nguyen Dynasty, the remainders of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long were transferred to Phu Xuan for building new citadel.

Only Kinh Thien Palace and Hau Lau were retained to be accommodations for Kings Nguyen during their business trips to the Bac Thanh. In 1805, King Gia Long ordered the demolition of walls surrounding the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and requested the building of a new, smaller citadel called Hanoi Citadel with architectural style of Vauban (France). In 1831, King Minh Mang changed name of the Citadel of Thang Long to Hanoi Province in a big administrative reform. When French colonists occupied all Indochina, they chose Hanoi as the capital of French Indochina Union and the Hanoi Citadel was destroyed to build military camp for French colonists. Since the Vietnamese army took the control of the capital city in 1954, the Hanoi Citadel has become the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense. The first value of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi shows that it is nearly a book displaying over 10 century- history of Thang Long – Hanoi from Dai La Citadel in Pre-Thang Long period to nowadays.

History has revealed that Imperial Citadel of Thang Long changed a lot but its centre, especially Forbidden City, remained nearly unchanged. As architectural structures inside the Imperial Citadel were rebuilt and upgraded several times, this explained for the findings of layers of architectural vestiges and artefacts at archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu. These vestiges reflect clearly relation between urban project and architectural space as well as succession of dynasties in building the Citadel of Thang Long. This is the unique and prominent value of the central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi. Here, archaeologists excavated a great deal of porcelain and ceramic wares used in the Imperial Citadel through various stages of development. The findings paved the way for researchers to study ceramics made in Thang Long and ceramic wares used in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long through different dynasties. It is also concrete evidence about high development level of economy and culture. In addition, porcelains and bronze coins of China, Japan, Western Asia… found here proved that Thang Long was center of cultural exchange among countries in area and received quintessence values of humanity.

LAYOUT, BUILDINGS AND REMAINS OF THE CITADEL

The ancient Thang Long citadel was encircled by three incorporated forts. The smallest and most inner enclosure was Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden City) where the king, queens and concubines lived in seclusion. The area was called by different names by different dynasties, including Cung Thanh (under the Ly dynasty), Long Phuong Thanh (under the Tran dynasty) and Cam Thanh (under the Le dynasty). Tu Cam Thanh was entered by a single gate called Doan Mon (the main gate). The second fort (the middle ring) was Hoang Thanh (imperial citadel), where the royal court, offices and residence of mandarins were located. Under the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties, Hoang Thanh was entered by four entrances, entailing Tuong Phu to the east, Quang Phuc to the west, Dai Hung to the south and Dieu Duc to the north. Under the Nguyen dynasty, the capital city was transferred to Hue in the central region.

King Gia Long then ordered the demolition of walls surrounding the ancient Thang Long citadel reasoning that it only acted as Tran Bac Thanh (the northern defensive fortification) and requested the building of a new, smaller citadel called Hanoi citadel. Hoang Thanh had five entrances - the eastern, western, northern, south-western and north-eastern. At present, only the northern gate (Bac Mon) remains at Phan Dinh Phung street. The outer fort was Kinh Thanh (imperial city), where the general public lived. Surrounded by the Hong, To Lich and Kim Nguu rivers, Kinh Thanh acted as a dyke system for the capital city. Under the Le dynasty, Thang Long citadel was entered by 16 gates, which was reduced to 12 under the Nguyen dynasty. In early 20th century, there were only five entrances, including Cho Dua, Dong Mac, Cau Den, Cau Giay and Quan Chuong. At present, there remains only Quan Chuong gate (formerly called Dong Ha Mon, meaning a river gate to the east).

Doan Mon was the only gate to Tu Cam Thanh. It overlooks south - the most important direction in traditional architectural works, especially ancient structures, according to the Vietnamese people. Under the Nguyen dynasty, Doan Mon was upgraded to have two more side entrances. In 1998, the Ministry of Defence handed over the Doan Mon relic, which covers a total land area of 3,681.5 square meters, to the Hanoi People's Committee. The relic site has been open to the public since October, 2001.

Bac Mon remains the only entrance to Hanoi Citadel under the Nguyen dynasty. It lies on Phan Dinh Phung street. Embedded in the outer wall of Bac Mon is a stone board carved with the date April, 25, 1882, and marks of two cannon balls fired by the French troops during their distance attack targeted the citadel from the Hong (Red) river. Two wooden doors of Bac Mon has already been restored with each measuring 12 square meters in size. The doors weigh about 16 tones and slide on copper wheels weighed approximately 80 kilograms. Above the citadel gate sits a shrine dedicated to Governor Nguyen Tri Phuong and his successor Hoang Dieu, who led Hanoians to defeat the French colonialists' attacks twice.

Stone dragons in Kinh Thien palace are the only vestige of Kinh Thien palace. Four stone dragons that divided the staircase leading to Kinh Thien palace into three were carved in mid 15th century. The dragons are typical of the sculpture in the Le So dynasty. Made from green stone, the dragons all have a rising head with round bulging eyes, long branched antlers, manes flowing backward, and a half-open mouth holding in a gem. The body of the dragons is serpentine with tail getting smaller and back having cloud-shaped scales. Stone dragons in Kinh Thien palace partly reflect how giant the palace was.

Dragon House was built on the site of Kinh Thien palace by the French colonialists in 1886. Kinh Thien palace was in the heart of Thang Long imperial citadel. It was located on Long Do (the naval of the dragon) mountain, which was regarded as the vital point of the ancient Thang Long citadel. In 1010 after settling in Thang Long capital city, King Ly Thai To ordered the building of a central chamber for the capital city on top of Long Do mountain and called it Can Nguyen palace, where the most important royal rituals were held. In 1029, King Ly Thai Tong commanded his men to construct a central chamber called Thien An on the site of Can Nguyen palace. Thien An palace was then renamed Kinh Thien palace under the Le dynasty. When the capital city was moved to Hue in the central region under the Nguyen dynasty, Kinh Thien palace became the out-of-town palace for the kings and mandarins of the Nguyen when they visited the north. In 1886, the French colonialists demolished the out-of-town Kinh Thien palace and built the two-storey seven-room dragon house which acted as a command office of the French artillery. Since the Vietnamese army took the control of the capital city in 1954, the dragon house has become the headquarters of the Vietnam People's Army.

Hau Lau (also called Tinh Bac pavilion) was located behind the out-of-town Kinh Thien palace and it currently lies on Hoang Dieu Street. Hau Lau stood north to safeguard peace for the Kinh Thien palace in accordance with the principle of Feng Shui so it acquired the name Tinh Bac Lau or Hau Lau (a pavilion in the back). It was also called the pavilion of princess given it provided accommodations for concubines accompanying King Nguyen during his business trips to the north. Hau Lau was destroyed in 1870 and it was then rebuilt into a military camp for the French troops. At present, Hau Lau acts as a showcase room exhibiting artefacts excavated from the surrounding area in October 1998, and photos portraying Hanoi through different historical stages.

Archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu is about 87 meters from Kinh Thien palace. It houses vestiges of palaces of the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties. The lowest layer of the site was found a part of the eastern area of Dai La citadel under Cao Bien’s reign of the Duong dynasty. The higher layers were reserved for palaces of the Ly and Tran dynasties and a part of the center of the eastern palace of the Ly dynasty. The top layer revealed a part of the center of Hanoi Citadel in the 19th century. History revealed that Thang Long imperial citadel changed a lot but its centre, especially Tu Cam Thanh, remained nearly unchanged. As architectural structures inside the imperial citadel have been rebuilt and upgraded several times, this explained for the findings of layers of architectural vestiges and artefacts at the archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu. Here, archaeologists dug out many important architectural vestiges and a great deal of porcelain and ceramic wares used in the imperial citadel through various stages of development. The findings paved the way for researchers to study ceramics made in Thang Long in general and ceramic wares used in Thang Long imperial citadel through different dynasties.

Flag Tower of Hanoi (also called Hanoi platform) is located at Dien Bien Phu street. The tower structure was built together with Hanoi Citadel under the Nguyen dynasty (began in early 1805 and completed in 1812). The flag tower is composed of three tiers and a pyramid-shaped tower with the exterior walls imbedded in brick. The tower has a spiral staircase leading to the octagonal top inside it where a flag is hoisted. After the city was liberated on October 10, 1954, the national flag of Vietnam is on top of the tower to welcome visitors.

MAIN GATE AND PALACE REMAINS OF THE CITADEL

Doan Mon (Main Gate) of The Citadel (Hoang Dieu Street, Ba Dinh District) is the main entrance to the Forbidden City belonging to the Central sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi. It is directed toward the south because it's the most important direction for ancient structures of Vietnamese. The gate was built in the Le Dynasty (15th century) with restorations carried out during the Nguyen Dynasty (19th century). Doan Mon, together with an area behind it formerly known as Long Tri (Dragon Courtyard), played a very important role in the ceremonies of the Royal Citadel such as the ceremony for national loyalty Oath (1128); Nhan Vuong Festival, Quang Chieu Colored Lantern Festival (1136); the parade of imperial guards (1351) and ceremonies for the mandarin examinations (1457, 1466, 1481, 1496).

When Hanoi Citadel was destroyed by French colonialists in late 19th century, Doan Mon has been one of some structures which has still existed. Doan Mon constructed of stone and brick has three floors. The first floor includes 5 doors, of which the central door reserved for the Emperor is the largest one with four meters in height and 2.7 meters in width. A stone tablet with the words Doan Mon in Chinese characters is fixed above the central door. There are two smaller doors (3.8 meters in height and 2.5 meters in width) in the each side of the central door reserved for the mandarins and members of the royal family. In addition, there are also two secondary gates in the both side of the main entrance.

The second floor is surrounded by a balustrade and reached by two flights of stairs. Its doors are opening to the east, west, south and north and decorated with hexagons, crosses, lozenges and the Chinese symbol for longevity. The third floor features a gazebo-style pavilion with two-layer roof. The first layer of roof is tiled and ornamented with dragons at the up-turned corners. The upper layer of roof, also tiled, features decorative foliage at the up-turned corners and dragon heads at each end of the ridge line. The two layers of roof are separated by short timber walls. Dragon faces adorn the gables.

After the Viet Nam military liberated the capital in 1954, Hanoi Citadel including Doan Mon has become head office of Ministry of National Defence. In 1998, Ministry of National Defence handed Doan Mon over to Hanoi Peoples Committee with total area of 3,970 meters. Doan Mon has been opened for visitors since October, 2011.

Kinh Thien Palace of The Citadel (Ba Dinh District, in Central Sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long) was the center of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Le Dynasty and Hanoi Citadel in Nguyen Dynasty. The area includes two large stone dragons that extend up nine stairs left over from the 15th century during the Le Dynasty - all that remains of the shrine that was once part of the imperial forbidden city that was off-limits to everyone but royalty. It was rebuilt three times during different dynasties. When the French invaded Vietnam in the late 19th century, they destroyed everything but the stairs and gate, and constructed a two-story building to house their artillery headquarters. That, in turn, was taken over by the North Vietnamese after they defeated the French colonialists in 1954.

In 1010, King Ly Thai To promulgated Chieu Doi Do (the royal decree) to change the capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh Province) to Dai La Citadel. After transferring the capital, the king had Citadel of Thang Long built, of which the main palace of Can Nguyen was in the center location, atop Long Do Mountain (Dragon’s navel). According to phong thuy (feng shui) principles and architectural practice, Long Do Mountain is a place of immense ritual power. In 1029, King Ly Thai Tong had Thien An Palace built on the foundation of Can Nguyen Palace. In 1428, King Le Thai To had Kinh Thien Palace built on the foundation of Thien An Palace and Kinh Thien Palace was considered as ?one of the masterpieces of An Nam architecture?. In Nguyen Dynasty, when the capital was transferred to Hue, Kinh Thien Palace only acted as accommodation for Nguyen Kings during their trips to the North. In 1886, the French colonists destroyed Kinh Thien Palace, except two sets of stone dragon steps and had a house built on the foundation of the palace including 2 floors with 7 rooms. The house was used as French headquarters of artillery and called Dragon House because there are sets of stone dragon steps at the front and the back of the house. When Hanoi was liberated in 1954, Dragon House became general headquarters of Vietnamese People's Army. It is now a relic of revolution and history, opened frequently for visitors.

Two sets of stone dragon steps in Kinh Thien Palace are the typical heritage of architecture and arts for Hau Le Dynasty. The set of dragon steps at the front built in 1467 includes nine stone steps, each step is 20 centimeters high, 40 centimeters wide, 13.6 meters long. The steps are divided into three flights separated by two stone dragons. The center flight was reserved for king, while two flanking ones were for mandarins. The two dragons are beautifully sculpted. Their heads - at the first step - are very large, their body are tapering as they follow the ascent of the steps until they form a sword shape at the top. Each dragon has five claws, symbolizing royal power. There are two banisters at two sides of the set of dragon steps made of monoliths with length of 5.3 meters, width of 36 - 39 centimeters. Many vignettes are carved in these banisters.

The second set of dragon steps at the back constructed at the 17th---18th centuries includes seven steps. Its scale is smaller than the set of steps at the front. There is only one flight created by two dragons at two sides of the set of dragon steps. Each dragon is 3.4 meters long with meticulous details including mouth holding a stone ‘pearl’, round nose, high forehead, branched horn, feet with five claws. Four dragons in Kinh Thien Palace are also made of green stone and reflect partly monumental scale of former Kinh Thien Palace.

Ho Chi Minh's Bunker and D67 Underground Command Center (within the area of Kinh Thien Palace in Hanoi’s Citadel) was used by North Vietnam’s top leaders in the Vietnam War. Margie Mason of Associated Press wrote: "Behind thick concrete walls and iron doors, Ho Chi Minh and other top North Vietnamese leaders took cover in secret underground tunnels during U.S. bombing raids and plotted key military strategies that led to America's defeat in the Vietnam War... The bunker used by Ho, his military leader, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, and others is in the same building where the 1968 Tet offensive and the fall of Saigon in 1975 were planned from about 30 feet below the surface. [Source: By Margie Mason, Associated Press, October 28, 2004 \\\\]

"The communist military, with help from the Soviets, built its headquarters there in 1967. It housed an elaborate tunnel system, including the underground bunker, which has narrow submarine-style corridors and vaulted metal doors leading into two larger rooms. During U.S. bombing raids, Politburo members and top military brass took cover there and held meetings. Vietnam's Defense Ministry occupied the property until recently, relocating to another site and turning part of the area over to the city of Hanoi. Only a small underground section of the bunker was opened to the public, with most of the tunnels remaining closed and classified. \\\\

"No one knows how long (the tunnels are)," said professor Le Van Lan, a historian with in-depth knowledge of the site. "It's a secret. There's many legends that they go to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum." An army blanket and a simple wooden bed where Giap, now 93, sometimes napped is also on display in his old office along with antique phones used to communicate with his staff and other officials. "It's a very simple room, but from that room, the Vietnamese military strategists issued big decisions for the liberation and unification of the country,'' said Truong Khanh Hao, 71, a veteran who fought the French and the Americans. "It's a pride for all Vietnamese that we have these relics.'' \\\\

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

Page Top

© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

<

p>

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from factsanddetails.com, please contact me.