– other possibilities
Built in European neo-Gothic style St. Joseph's Cathedral
dominates a small square in the heart of Hanoi's tourist
area facing a street of restaurants and boutiques.
was one of the first buildings erected by the French colonists,
and was completed in 1886 – many of the materials and most
of the craftspeople were imported from France. Most of the
stained glass windows are original and good examples of
is held twice daily (5am-7am and 5pm-7pm), but visitors
can enter through a side door when the main doors are closed.
The Hanoi Citadel complex is in the
process of being released by the Army - two buildings are
now accessible, and more are to follow. A visit is recommended!
known as the Dai La Citadel, King Ly Thai To renamed it
Thang Long (Ascending Dragon – the old name of Hanoi) Citadel
when he chose it as his capital in 1010. Over many centuries
various monarchs moved the capital to other places and their
successors moved it back again to Hanoi often modifying
and rebuilding elements of the Citadel several times.
1888 the defeated Nguyen Dynasty surrendered the Hanoi Citadel
to the French colonialists. Hanoi
became a colonial city 66 years until the French were expelled
in 1954. During their occupancy, the colonists broke down
the walls of Citadel and destroyed most of the buildings
inside. The old Watchtower remains, and offers an excellent
view of the whole complex.
2003, excavations on the site of a proposed new National
Assembly building unearthed the remains of King Ly Thai
To’s Palace, and with it a wealth of relicts, foundations
building, wells, kilns and other remains that shed new light
on the early history of Thanh Long and the complex relationship
between the cultures of Vietnam and China. The future destiny
of the site is not yet clear, but the archeological treasures
that have been discovered are being catalogued and put on
A misnomer, really! During the earlier years of colonization,
building development was on ‘concession’ land ‘leased’ by
the Vietnamese authorities, the first near what is now the
Opera House and another near the railway station.
this face-saving pretence was soon abandoned and French
administration, military officials and civil servants built
more or less where they wished, tearing down existing buildings
result is a rich heritage of magnificent mansions, villas
and public buildings throughout Hanoi’s central area. For
anyone interested in architecture, a visit to some of the
best examples is a must! Early civil constructions such
as the Opera House and St. Joseph’s Cathedral were smaller
replicas of their equivalent in France. To build the Cathedral,
a miniature of Notre Dame, one of Hanoi’s oldest pagodas
was destroyed to make the foundations .
the early years of the twentieth century, the style began
to diverge from the French mainstream by incorporating Vietnamese
and oriental elements to create a distinct architectural
stroll around the centre of Hanoi takes in buildings such
the Opera House, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidential
Palace and the Chinese Embassy. With a Haivenu specialist
guide, you'll gain an comprehensive overview of Hanoi’s
colonial architectural heritage.
Like most Vietnamese cities, Hanoi is thin on public open
spaces. The nearest equivalent is Lenin Park, a large lake
surrounded by lawns and trees located south of the city
centre. Compared with its equivalents in other large cities,
it’s tiny. New York’s Central Park extends over 341ha, London’s
Hyde Park measures 255ha, and Le Bois de Boulogne in Paris
is a whopping 865ha. Beside these, Lenin Park is small beer
– a mere 50ha, and most of that is water.
it’s a good place for a stroll, and there’s usually plenty
going on. Jogging, badminton, impromptu games of ‘da cau’
(a game involving keeping a sort of shuttlecock in the air
using only the feet), chess, maj-jong and snogging on the
benches under the trees are all popular pursuits. If you
don’t mind travelling in a giant plastic swan, a boat on
the lake is a pleasant diversion.
the Vietnam Circus building, a small amusement park and
a few statues and memorials, but the main pleasure is the
cool shade of the trees on a hot day, and a partial respite
from the roar of traffic.