Table Of Contents
- Hoa Lu Ancient Capital History
- What to Do At Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel
- How to get to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?
- Best Time To Visit Hoa Lu Ninh Binh
Maybe many people know about Hue’s Ancient Capital, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. But there is a place that used to be the first capital of Vietnam – Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. It is a famous place in Ninh Binh province and is also the first capital of Vietnam. Therefore, Hoa Lu plays a significant role for the Vietnamese people.
Although now no longer has the appearance of a place that was once the capital of Vietnam, it still attracts the attention of many tourists. This tiny kingdom only covers an area of 300 hectares and ruled from the 10th century, the Dinh and Le dynasties, to the 11th century, the Ly dynasty.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital History
Period Before Hoa Lu Capital Was Established
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital relic is now located in the area bordering two districts of Hoa Lu and Gia Vien in Ninh Binh province. This is an alluvial land at the foot of the mountain, so people lived very early.
Archaeologists have discovered orangutan tooth bones and terrestrial animals belonging to the Paleolithic Diagram of the Trang An culture. There are also some caves with signs of human habitation in the Hoabinhian period.
After the Hoabinhian period, this land was the settlement of the people of the Neolithic age of Vietnam. The Trang An World Heritage Site complex in Hoa Lu also preserves many relics of prehistoric people from 30,000 years ago, vestiges of ancient dynasties and capitals.
This land in Hong Bang’s time belonged to the Ministry of Quan Ninh. During An Duong Vuong’s time, this area belonged to the Cuu Luu tribe. From the Han Dynasty through the Three Kingdoms to the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital area belonged to the Cau Lau district, Giao Chi district. In the Tang Dynasty, this area belonged to Truong Chau.
This area was the base of Dinh Bo Linh during the Ngo Dynasty. He seceded and successfully repelled the attack of the central government of Co Loa in 951, led by two brothers, Thien Sach King Ngo Xuong Ngan and King Nam Tan, Ngo Xuong Van. Until the Ngo family died, this place was still an impregnable sand area of Dinh Bo Linh.
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Establishment of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Dinh Bo Linh Unified the Country
In 968, Dinh Bo Linh finished the rebellion of 12 warlords, unified the country, ascended the throne, and established the Dinh dynasty. He became the first emperor of Vietnam after 1000 years of Northern domination. King Dinh Tien Hoang named the country Dai Co Viet, taking Hoa Lu as the capital.
Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu records that when he became king, Dinh Tien Hoang chose a narrow land in Dam Thon to build a rampart. But because of the narrow land, it is not beneficial to bet, so the capital should be located in Hoa Lu. When the capital Co Loa was located on the plain, it could not maintain stability. The Hoa Lu military base developed stronger than all.
Dinh Tien Hoang thereby quashed the state of territorial division and regained unification for the country. Kings Le Dai Hanh and Le Long Dinh later always maintained the capital in battles against hostile forces.
Dinh Tien Hoang was king for 12 years when a eunuch – Do Thich, assassinated him. The third son left, only six years old, Dinh Toan ascended the throne, i.e., Dinh De Toan. Under the pretext of the invasion of the Song invaders, Empress Dowager Duong Van Nga and her courtiers honored General Le Hoan to the throne, establishing the Le Dynasty.
Former The Le Dynasty
Le Hoan ascended the throne in the context of the country’s turmoil inside and outside. From the moment he seized power, he quickly swept away the rebellions. Concubine Ngo Nhat Khanh fled to the south, along with King Chiem Thanh, with over a thousand warships intended to attack the capital Hoa Lu but was drowned by a storm.
Seeing that the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital court was in trouble, the Song Dynasty in China sent troops to invade Dai Co Viet. In that situation, Empress Dowager Duong Van Nga, General Pham Cu Lang, and other mandarins proposed Le Hoan become king.
Statistical studies show that, during his 26-year reign, Le Hoan was particularly interested in the southern land. He conducted six primary military operations here out of 10 during his reign. The king led the army to quell the uprising of invasive forces, from the Chiem people to the Song Dynasty in China.
He not only firmly defended the border region but also directly prepared for the process of South Vietnamese progress to expand Dai Viet’s territory later. That also explains why Hoa Lu continued to be the imperial capital under the Early Le dynasty.
After Le Dai Hanh, his son Le Long Dinh became king and reigned for four years. He had many glorious feats, but he died at the age of 24, leading to the end of the Former Le Dynasty, power falling into the hands of the Ly Dynasty.
Ly Dynasty – Moved Hoa Lu Capital to Thang Long
In 1010, King Ly Cong Uan moved the capital from Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel to Dai La Citadel and renamed it Thang Long, i.e., Hanoi now. The researchers believe that Ly Thai To realized that Hoa Lu’s capital was narrow and unsuitable for the country’s new position, so he issued “Chieu Doi Do”.
This is a significant historical event for Hoa Lu and Thang Long. It is a milestone marking the history of Hanoi capital of Vietnam. Thus, the capital Hoa Lu existed for 42 years, of which the first 12 years were the Dinh dynasty (968 – 980), the next 29 years were the Tien Le dynasty (980 – 1009) and the last year (1009 – 1010) was the Ly dynasty.
What to Do At Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel
Join the Annual Festivals
Every year, many traditional festivals take place at Hoa Lu Ancient Capital of Vietnam, to commemorate a place that was once the first capital of Vietnam. Coming to Hoa Lu, visitors can attend many traditional cultural festivals that take place every year.
Among the festivals, the most important and monumental is the Truong Yen Festival, held on the 10th day of the third lunar month. The festival commemorates the kings of the Dinh – Le dynasties, Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh. The festival is divided into two parts: worshiping at Truong Yen Wharf, located on Hoang Long River, and at two King temples.
Truong Yen Festival will last three days and organize many exciting activities for visitors. Activities include performing chess drills, Chinese writing contests, and dragon dance. Other traditional games reflect the legends of the kings held during this festival.
Visiting Monuments, Pagodas, and Temples
Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel has been the capital of Vietnam for 42 years, so it’s no wonder there are still many relics left here. These include palaces, temples, mausoleums, and pavilions built by many kings in different dynasties. One of the many architectural highlights is Bach Bao Thien Tue palace, inlaid with gold and silver. However, many things are incomplete because they have been destroyed by time and war.
Nhat Tru Pagoda – One Pillar Pagoda in Ninh Binh
Nhat Tru Pagoda, also known as the One Pillar Pagoda of Ninh Binh, is an ancient temple built in the 10th century. The pagoda’s construction was under the orders of Emperors Le Dai Hanh and Ly Thai Tong. It still has a lot of old things from the 10th to the 11th century.
The huge pillar in front of it makes this temple unique. This is also the reason for the name of the temple.
The pillar is made from stone and is located in the middle of a campus with an area of 3,000m2. This is not a round cylinder but an octagonal shape, similar to Buddhist scripture. On top of the column is a stone lotus.
Once come here, surely people cannot ignore the church, the three-chamber Buddha. This is the place to worship many Buddhas in Vietnamese culture, such as Guan Yin on Mountain, Tam Ton, and Tam The. Today, Nhat Tru Pagoda is still a spiritual destination that tourists cannot ignore when visiting Ninh Binh.
Tam Coc Bich Dong – Ha Long Bay On Land
Every time you come to Ninh Binh, one thing is for sure there is a place that you can’t forget, and that is Tam Coc – Bich Dong. This place is known as Ha Long Bay on land because of its similarities, so it is not surprising that this is a famous tourist destination.
Tam Coc Bich Dong owns a peaceful village scene and an impressive limestone cave system. As part of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Tam Coc Bich Dong is the perfect destination for exploring nature’s beauty.
You can use the boat to explore many caves in the Cave system here. Among them can be mentioned as Tam Coc Cave, which will include three caves: Ca Cave, Hai Cave, and Ba Cave. There are also many other caves, such as Tien Cave and Xuyen Thuy Cave, etc., you can choose to visit.
Ma Yen Mountain
Ma Yen Mountain is considered the legend of a king in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh. Its height is about 200m. People call it Ma Yen because it resembles a saddle, low in the middle and high in the front and back. This mountain is associated with the legend of Dinh Bo Linh when he has crowned Emperor in 968. The king chose this magnificent and dangerous mountain area to build the capital.
When the king died after 12 years of ruling the country, the locals buried his body on the top of Ma Yen. In addition, on this mountain, at the southern foot of the mountain, is the tomb of King Le Dai Hanh. You can visit the tombs of both kings.
Standing on the top of Ma Yen Mountain, the tomb of Dinh Tien Hoang, you will see a panoramic view of Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel. You can feel the scenery of the place once the capital of Vietnam and feel the heroic atmosphere but very close.
How to get to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?
Starting from Hanoi, it will take about 2 hours to travel about 110km to Ninh Binh. You can choose many ways to get around, such as from Hanoi to Ninh Binh by bus, train, or car.
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Going to Ninh Binh by Bus
Going to Giap Bat or My Dinh station in Hanoi, you can easily catch the bus route to Ninh Binh of many bus operators. Each bus operator will have a different price. The fare ranges from 100,000 VND to 150,000 VND per person. If you miss the bus, you do not need to worry too much, because there will be a bus every 30 minutes, lasting from 5 am to 11 pm daily.
Departing by motorbike to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital Of Vietnam
If you choose a motorbike for this trip, you will have to face nature, such as rain, sun, and dust, in the immediate future. But you will have the freedom of not having to depend on anyone else. Visitors can find many motorbike rental spots in Hanoi and rent them for around 100,000 to 150,000 VND.
You will start your journey at Giai Phong Street and turn onto Phap Van – Cau Gie highway. And continue to go straight. On the way, there will be many signposts. You need to follow the sign to reach Ninh Binh easily. Once you have reached Ninh Binh, you can quickly get to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital of Vietnam.
Traveling To Hoa Lu Ancient By Train
Like the bus, you will have to go to the train station to buy a car from Hanoi to Ninh Binh and get on the train on time. The train will only stop at Ninh Binh City, so you can hire a taxi or Grab to get to Hoa Lu.
Best Time To Visit Hoa Lu Ninh Binh
Visiting Hoa Lu, you don’t have to choose the right time because each season here always has its beauty. However, according to the proposal of the Vietnamese, spring is often considered the most beautiful time of the year to travel to Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel, Ninh Binh, because, after the Lunar New Year, there will be many significant festivals.
During the Tet holidays, you will be able to participate in the unique festivals of the indigenous people here. If you want to feel the peace of a sacred land, come on the remaining days.
The above article outlines the essential information you should know before coming to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Vietnam. Culture Pham Travel, thanks for taking the time to read the article, and wishes you a wonderful visit to Hoa Lu Ninh Binh. You can refer to our article if you need more information about other places, such as Mua Cave and Trang An Landscape Complex.