Citadel of the Ho Dynasty: Thanh Hoa

UNESCO World Heritage Site in Rural Vietnam

UNESCO: Citadel of Ho Dynasty Main Entrance (South Gate)
Latest UNESCO World Heritage in Vietnam (2011), it is not widely known to both Vietnamese and foreign tourists and brings visitors to bewildered to the UNESCO criteria judging the value of World Heritage.
Ho Dynasty Background

The first emperor of Ho dynasty was usurper named Ho Quy Ly. He was the regent of Tran Dynasty when he ordered to build the citadel in Thanh Hoa in 1397AD.

After that he seized the power and declared himself as the emperor then moved the capital from Hanoi to this citadel.

Ho Dynasty (1400-1407) had short period in power 7 years with two kings. Ho Quy Ly passed the throne to his son and became known as the Emperor’s Highest Father. In 1407 Ming dynasty of China invaded Vietnam and gained victory. Ho Quy Ly, his son and family were sent to China and died there.

Outside Wall, Citadel of Ho Dynasty
The Remarkable of Ho Dynasty’s Citadel
Location
It was built on the perfect strategic location in term of Feng Shui principle and Neo-Confucianism. There is mountain range on the north with 2 rivers on the west and south as the natural fortification.

Architecture and plan
Citadel of Ho Dynasty was constructed from huge stone slabs in rectangular shape for approx 800m in long and wide. There are 4 gates, South (Main entrance), North, East and West.

Citadel of Ho Dynasty on the time of my visit
Admission Fee 10,000VND

Inside Wall, Citadel of Ho Dynasty
East Gate, Citadel of Ho Dynasty
This historic site is lack of public relations and basic infrastructures. I arrived at noon; there was a group of Vietnamese tourist. We parked the car on the narrow pavement. The road leading to the entrance to the South gate was under renovation. On the left side are small museum houses, gift shop and toilet. On the right side are two under construction building.

I went on the second floor of South Gate which built of huge solid rock in a state of good condition. This historic edifice is the most tangible. When I look around the square-shape citadel, only walls are left.

Within the citadel walls, there are two dirt roads from South Gate to North Gate and East Gate to West Gate. At the intersection 2-3 meters in length, carved stone Dragon Bridge located among paddy fields and ponds.

Outside the citadel walls, surrounded by local road and farmers’ community, each family consists of small brick house and yard.


I spent 2 hours walking around the ancient walls, paid respect to the Buddha and made a wish to sacred stone at Binhkhuong Temple, then explored the fields and lotus ponds, enjoyed a quiet rural landscape and said hello to the buffalo caretakers. While I visited the Dragon Stone Bridge at the intersection in the middle of ancient citadel, good time was reduced. It was time to work after two hour lunch; Vietnamese were taking bikes and motorcycles from homes to work diligently.

This is the condition of UNESCO World Heritage site that visitors would not understand. This historic place is worthy enough or not?

However, from the news, Vietnamese government and Board of Tranh Hoa Province has allocated a budget and plan for Tourism development. It also has been discovered historic evidences continuously. Hopefully, this World Heritage Site will be developed to be the interesting place worth to visit finally.

Dragon Stone Bridge, In the Middle of Citadel of Ho Dynasty
Farm Houses Outside the Wall of Citadel of Ho Dynasty
Sights Map, Citadel of Ho Dynasty
Note:
Citadel of Ho Dynasty is shortage of staff specialising in English to accommodate tourists. But there's one thing can help; Sights into Citadel of Ho Dynasty billboard. It has shown 17 attractions in the site. It was hidden at the back of a Vietnamese language billboard on the left side of South Gate entrance near the toilet. Find it, take photos then use as guide map.

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