Introducing Hoa Lu
Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh (968–80) and early Le (980–1009) dynasties. The site was a smart choice for a capital city because of the natural protection afforded by the region’s bizarre landscape, with rocky outcrops as spectacular as Tam Coc’s. The ancient citadel of Hoa Lu (admission 10, 000d), most of which has been destroyed, covered an area of about 3 sq km. The outer ramparts encompassed temples, shrines and the king’s palace. The royal family lived in the inner citadel.
Yen Ngua Mountain provides a scenic backdrop for Hoa Lu’s two remaining temples. The first, Dinh Tien Hoang, was restored in the 17th century and is dedicated to the Dinh dynasty. At the front of the main temple building is the stone pedestal of a royal throne; inside are bronze bells and a statue of Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang with his three sons. In a building to the right a display features photos and some artefacts, while to the left are three Buddhist prayer stones – one supported by a turtle, another with a crab and two rats at the base.
The second temple is dedicated to Le Dai Hanh, an early Le monarch. Inside the main hall are an assortment of drums, gongs, incense burners, candle holders and weapons, with a statue of the king in the middle, his queen on the right and their son on the left. In the left-hand section of this complex a modern museum features part of the excavations of the 10th-century citadel wall, unearthed in 1998.
Once you’ve navigated the hassle of persistent sellers on the way in, it’s very peaceful inside the complex, especially in the early morning or late afternoon when the crowds head back to Hanoi. On the hillside above the temples is the tomb of Dinh Tien Hoang. It’s a good 15-minute climb up 207 steps, but your efforts will be rewarded with great views.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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