The Citadel was built in just 3 months – from January to March in the year of 1397, under the command of Ho Quy Ly – the Tran Dynasty’s highest-ranking mandarin at that time. After being completed, this place became the country’s capital during the last years of Tran regime and 7 years of Ho Dynasty, representing the royalty as well as divine powers.
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Also known as the Tay Do or Tay Giai Citadel, this ancient building has been highly appraised for having a very strategic location, which is surrounded by a huge mountain range in the North, Ma River in the West and Buoi River in the South, drawing an enormous natural moat for defending the capital against enemy attacks. In the past, it was considered a military fortress as well as the symbol of royal power.
Dissimilar to many other citadels in Vietnam that were mainly made from bricks, the Ho Dynasty Citadel was totally built with slabs of stone slotted together without any mortar. Definitely, it is a really impressive feat of Vietnamese people in the late 14th century.
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Overall, the construction just has 4 stone walls, featuring 4 entrances facing 4 directions of the east, west, south, and north that surround nothing but farmland. There are almost no temples, no palaces as well as monuments inside the Citadel. For some people, it’s seemed so strange as UNESCO approved this site to be the World Cultural Heritage Site. However, according to this prestigious organization, the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty presents an exceptional example of a new style of imperial city in Southeast Asia.
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Until now, thanks to the best efforts of Vietnamese authorities and very sturdy structure of the old building, its walls and the 4 main entrances have been all preserved so well over several centuries. In recent years, the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty has attracted more and more tourists and become an important site on Vietnam tourist map.