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Co Loa Citadel: Mysterious Beauty

Hanoi is a favourite tourist destination and one reason for this is the Co Loa Citadel. It is regarded as one of the most ancient and significant architectural structures in Vietnam, and definitely one of the most beautiful in the world.

Co Loa Citadel was built by Thuc Phan An Duong Vuong who ruled Au Lac for 50 years in the 3rd century B.C. The state of Au Lac is where the famous citadel can be found, Co Loa being its capital. During this time, all civil and military operations were conducted at Co Loa by order of the king. During the reign of Ngo Quyen, Co Loa was named the capital city of his monarchical state wherein it became a highly relevant site for historical and cultural values.

At present, Co Loa Citadel holds a large number of important heritage which dates back to ancient nation-building. Among these are the three rounds of wall which are called inner wall, middle wall and outer wall (thành Nội, thành Trung và thành Ngoại) and measuring about 16 kilometres. In the middle of the citadel is a complex of relics, including Đền Thượng (Thuong Temple) worshiping An Duong Vuong, Đình Ngự triều (Court Communal House), My Chau Temple, and Bao Son Pagoda, among others. It also has an exhibition center of materials, artifacts and archaeology which visitors should definitely explore in order to have a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the  value and beauty of the place.

Legend has it that a golden tortoise named Genius Kim Quy gave Thuc Phan (An Duong Vuong) a magical crossbow which could kill tens of thousands of enemy soldiers in just one shot. But his daughter My Chau told this secret to her husband Trong Thuy, who happened to be the son of rebel Chinese General Trieu Da. This resulted in Trieu Da conquering Co Loa in 208 B.C. King An Duong was said to be so mad at his daughter’s treachery that he ordered to have her killed and then committed suicide after. Today, traces of the famous legend are said to be evident in the area.

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Aside from the citadel, Co Loa is also abundant in natural beauty such as a river, lagoon and trench, all previously a part of a bustling community such as markets, villages, etc. The Co Loa Festival is also another reason to visit the place, honoring King An Duong Vuong who built the Au Lac Kingdom and the Co Loa Citadel to fight against their enemies in 3 B.C. It is celebrated from the 6th to the 16th day of the Lunar New Year at An Duong Vuong Temple in Dong Anh District.

Co Loa is a “triangle of values” of history – humanity – ecology. This means that it has a rich culture and tradition which are both original and diverse, something which makes it a very important and interesting part of Vietnam’s culture and history in general.

Co Loa Citadel was listed as a national relic site by the Ministry of Culture and Information in 1962 and acknowledged by the government as a special national relic site in 2012. It is situated at Dong Anh District, 17 kilometres away from Hanoi to the North and has an area of 830 hectares.

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