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Monday, August 9, 2010

1000 years of Thang Long – Hanoi

Lying in the Red river delta where the land is fertile, Thang Long-Hanoi has survived to the age of a thousand years as of 2010. As a political and religious centre of Vietnam since the beginning of the country’s history, Thang Long-Hanoi pools together all the aspects of culture and civilisation that are quintessentially Vietnamese.

In his Edict on the Transfer of the Capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh) to Dai La (Hanoi today), King Ly Thai To said “Dai La citadel, the former capital of Gao Wang, is in the very heart of the universe. Its position evokes a soaring dragon and crouching tiger, in the centre of the four directions, convenient for the development of the nation. This area is large and flat, high and bright, the population does not suffer from floods and darkness, and everything is in full prosperity. After investigating all the lands of Vietnam, it is this place, a true gathering venue of people from across the nation, that is the most appropriate location for the eternal capital.”

The old Thang Long capital was formed from clusters of villages which nested peacefully among thickets of bamboo, dotted with man-made ponds to supply water for the daily use and production activities of the villagers as well as small gardens to provide greens for their meals.
Today, many of the characteristics of these ancient “villages” have been lost to history. But others have stood the test of time even in the heart of bustling, present-day Hanoi, where a number of ancient merchant streets live on today, bearing the same names, and often still engaging in the same craft or trade for which they have been known for centuries past. Age-old craft villages also live on, intertwined by narrow, winding roads.

Acting as Vietnam’s capital city, Thang Long-Hanoi is where different cultures come together, as evident in the languages, costumes, cuisines, and pastimes of the people.

The cultural essence of Hanoi is in the way its citizens enjoy the delights of living–through flower arrangement, bonsai and the breeding of pet birds. Such pleasures remain common among the citizens—although, with the city growing population, they might not have as much space for these activities as they would like.

What distinguishes Hanoians in any group of people is their accent – rich, soft, clear and emotional. The “Hanoi” voice, or “Ho Guom” voice, as it was dubbed by the famous writer To Hoai, is an accumulation of different accents of people who have flocked to Hanoi to live and do business over a long period of time.

In modern times, Thang Long-Dong Do-Hanoi remains mysterious and charmingly exquisite owing to its existing historic vestiges, myths, ancient old quarter streets, aged citadels and time-honoured merchant guilds.

The ancient architecture of Hanoi embodies the lively traditional lifestyle of extended families where generations lived together in the same house for years.

The Old Quarter in Hanoi has for a long time been the most populous area where generations of city-dwellers have earned their livelihood making handicraft items or working in a wide range of trades, establishing merchant guild featuring the products they made, such as Hang Bac (Sliver Street), Hang Duong (Sugar Street), Hang Dong (Copper Street), and Thuoc Bac.

At present, there remain streets in Hanoi that are lined with old trees and houses that distinctively feature French colonial architecture.

Thriving for a thousand years, Thang Long-Hanoi has become an attractive tourist destination, boasting famous cultural and historical sites as the Thang Long Old Citadel, Van Mieu -Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature- Vietnam’s first university), Thap Rua (Tortoise Tower), Ngoc Son Pagoda, and Chua Mot Cot (One-pillar Pagoda).

Aside from such sites, refined handicraft items like Bat Trang pottery, La Khe silk, Ngu Xa bronze wares, Ha Thai lacquer works, and the Nhat Tan, Quang Ba and Nghi Tam peach and kumquat growing areas have enhanced Hanoi’s allure.

Acting as the cultural centre of the entire northern region for centuries, Hanoi is home to an exquisite and distinctive cuisine, absorbing the influences of specialties from other regions in the country.

Once in Hanoi, visitors may savour the capital city’s authentic dishes like Com Vong (young green rice), Bank Cuon Thanh Tri (Thanh Tri steamed rolled rice pancakes), Cha Ca La Vong (La Vong grilled fish) and Banh Tom Ho Tay (West Lake shrimp pancakes)./.

  • Stampset “Thăng Long – Hà Nội, construction and development” including 4v and S/S has issue on 10-10-10
  • Some stampset about Hanoi