Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long – Witness For Millennial Year Old Hanoi

Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long - Hanoi Locals


The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an epic masterpiece formed by various Vietnamese civilizations. With its history spanning over a thousand years, the Imperial Citadel Thang Long has become an essential hallmark of Hanoi Capital City.

Indeed, its myriad values for Vietnam’s culture, history, and architectural arts are unparalleled. Therefore, UNESCO inscribed this site as a World Heritage Site, proving its importance to Vietnam and the world.

Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long - Hanoi Locals

What is exactly special about the Thang Long Imperial Citadel? Is it worth visiting? Let’s go into details about it and find the answers with Hanoi Locals.

Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long’s Location

Address: 19C Hoang Dieu Street, Dien Bien Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi City

The Thang Long Imperial Citadel is situated on a massive land area of 18,395 hectares in the center of Hanoi. Particularly, it borders four main streets in Hanoi City:

  • To the north: Phan Dinh Phung Street
  • To the south: Dien Bien Phu Street
  • To the east: Nguyen Tri Phuong Street
  • To the west: Hoang Dieu Street

See the Imperial Citadel Thang Long map for more details:

Therefore, it’s easy for travelers, especially first-time visitors, to get there by many means of transportation. You can catch bus route 22 to reach the main gate for visitors at 19C Hoang Dieu Street.

Otherwise, you can use private vehicles (rentals of scooters, motorcycles, or cars) and follow routes on Google Maps. Moreover, taxis and Grab bikes are highly available for you in Hanoi downtown.

If you want to make the best use of your time in Hanoi, we highly recommend you book our Hanoi tours:

Besides Imperial Citadel Thang Long, you can visit other highlights in Hanoi, such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple Of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, etc.

What’s Special About The Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long?

Thang Long Imperial Citadel History

First established in 1010 at the beginning of the Ly Dynasty, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long started its centuries-long history. It witnessed the sunrises and sunsets of Vietnam’s feudal dynasties, from Ly, Tran, and Le to Mac and Nguyen.

Thang Long Imperial Citadel in the past - Hanoi Locals
Thang Long Imperial Citadel in the past

On the threshold of the modern age, the citadel survived the French Conquest and has developed with Vietnam’s era of peace until nowadays. A brief of its lifetime is as follows:

  • Ly Dynasty (11th–12th century): Ly Thai To Emperor founded the Thang Long Imperial Citadel with the most basic constructions: a perimeter wall, working space, and residence.
  • Tran Dynasty (13th–14th century): Tran Emperors continued to rearrange and build other details.
  • Initial Le Dynasty (15th century): The imperial citadel was double-extended. Also, various remarkable constructions, such as Kinh Thien Palace, were built during this time.
  • Mac Dynasty (16th century): The rulers did restoration work to gates and streets. Plus, they made three levees outside the perimeter wall.
  • Revival Le Dynasty (17th–18th century): After being seriously ruined by battles, the citadel was restored.
  • Tay Son Dynasty (18th century): Although Phu Xuan (Hue) was chosen to be the capital instead of Thang Long, Quang Trung Emperor continued to restore and build up the citadel.
  • Nguyen Dynasty (19th–20th century): Nguyen Emperors turned the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long into Hanoi Province and changed it into a Vauban structure.
  • French Conquest: The French took control over Hanoi and modified it for military purposes.
  • 2002: An excavation found many traces and relics of the ancient citadel of Thang Long. They continue to excavate and restore its monuments. 
  • 2010: The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Unique Architecture

As its long-standing history shows, Imperial Citadel Thang Long’s architecture underwent tons of transformations. The citadel monuments you will see in Hanoi now are situated on a land area of 20 hectares, including two parts—an archaeological site and an ancient citadel site. Most of the monuments are reconstructions and excavated remnants.

Thang Long Monuments - Hanoi Locals

In the first place, the Thang Long Citadel had only three basic sites: a protection wall, a workplace, and a residence. As time went by, it was built up with more construction and intricate structures. Indeed, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long was distributed into two axes with prominent relics such as the Flag Tower, Main Gate, Kinh Thien Palace, Princess Pavilion, Northern Gate, House D67, and Nguyen Dynasty’s and French works.

Then, unfortunately, many were destroyed so severely that some are still in ruin or absent today. Based on old documents, reconstruction projects have been planned and carried out.

Significance And Achievements

The Imperial Citadel Thang Long has carried historically valuable relics that reflect various aspects like architectural arts, archaeology, and revolutionary history. With irreplaceable values, it was evaluated as the most important of all urban heritage sites in Vietnam.

In terms of history, its existence showcases the great history of Vietnam, spanning more than a thousand years since the feudal ages. Persisting through a dozen centuries, especially during detrimental wars, Thang Long proves its role as a historical witness and protector.

Moreover, when it comes to architecture, the citadel has contributed significantly to architectural research. Its remnants and relics are evidence of the thriving artistic development in Vietnam since the eleventh century.

Kinh Thien Palace in the past
An old picture of Kinh Thien Palace, a part of Thang Long Imperial Citadel

Additionally, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel is a priceless subject for archaeological researchers. In its archaeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu Street, critical relics have been found, especially well-maintained ones underground. These tell a lot about the history, particularly of the cross-cultural relationships with foreign countries.

Perhaps its best recognition is the achievement of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, a thousand years after its establishment. Since then, the sustainable preservation, embellishment, and promotion of Imperial Citadel Thang Long have been properly focused on.

Vietnam Cultural Heritage Festival is held at Imperial Citadel Thang Long
Vietnam Cultural Heritage Festival is held at Imperial Citadel Thang Long

What To See In The Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long?

Hanoi Flag Tower

Hanoi Flag Tower - Hanoi Locals

The Hanoi Flag Tower in Imperial Citadel Thang Long is not one of the first constructions but a later one in 1812 by Nguyen Emperor Gia Long. It follows Vauban styles, is over 30 meters high, and features a 3-level base, a pillar body, and a guard room.

It is still intact and worth seeing, with a good scale and lovely patterns on the walls. Moreover, you can climb up the staircases inside the body and get a city panorama. It’s so iconic that it has become one of the symbols of Hanoi.

Doan Mon – Main Gate

Doan Mon Main Gate

After the flag tower, you will reach the main gate leading to the citadel, namely Đoan Môn. It was one of the first construction projects, but it had improvements over time.

It’s a majestic arch gate out of stone, including five doors. While the largest central door was for the emperor, other people used the other four side doors. Interestingly, it’s supposed to be the path for carriages, as we can see a straight path leading to Kinh Thien Palace.

Kinh Thien Palace

Kinh Thien Palace

Kinh Thien Palace is a large yard away from the main gate. It’s located in the central sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long Hanoi. Erected in 1428, it functioned as the venue for important rituals, ceremonies, regular courts, and foreign ambassador welcome events.

Sadly, this palace remains only the base and a double dragon staircase. In 2020, the authorities started the reconstruction plan for this palace.

Hau Lau – Princess Pavilion

Hau Lau - Princess Pavilion

Behind Kinh Thien Palace is a pavilion accommodating the emperor’s wives and daughters, called Hậu Lâu or Tĩnh Bắc Lâu. The pavilion first appeared after the Le Dynasty, with an architectural combination of Vietnamese traditions and French attributes.

Its most typical feature was the clever wall thickness that kept the rooms cool during summers and warm during winters. In the late nineteenth century, it suffered severe damage and underwent restoration by the French.

Cua Bac – Northern Gate

Cua Bac Northern Gate

The Northern Gate, or Chính Bắc Môn or Cửa Bắc in Vietnamese, is the only survivor among the five ancient gates of the Nguyen Dynasty. It first operated in 1805, with a big door wall and an upstairs floor.

Nowadays, on the upstairs floor is the worship place of Nguyen Tri Phuong and Hoang Dieu, two commanders who sacrificed their lives for the protection of the citadel.

18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Monuments

18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Monuments

The archaeological monument at 18 Hoang Dieu Street is in the western part of the Imperial Citadel Thang Long. It was first excavated in 2002, with layers of precious relics discovered. It has unsealed a comprehensive picture of the culture, history, architecture, and aesthetics of the past feudal dynasties in Vietnam.

In addition, the monuments piled up and intertwined over 13 centuries. Visitors to this area will see an excavation area with underground layers and several relics displayed.

House D67

House and Bunker D67

House D67 is the youngest monument at this time-honored imperial citadel. Set up in the modern age in 1967, House D67 served as the workplace and strategy planning venue of the Vietnamese army during the war against America.

Typical objects related to that period, such as strategy maps, long tables, or telephones, are still well preserved at this place. It gives off a vintage and epic sense of the past.

Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long Travel Guide

Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long Entrance Fee

  • 70,000 VND/person (3 USD)
  • Free for children under 16 years old

See Hanoi Entrance Fee for more ticket information.

Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long Opening Hours

Thang Long Imperial Citadel is open from 08:00 to 17:00 every day. Yet, the Tet holiday might affect this opening time. Furthermore, the best time to visit Hanoi and Thang Long Citadel should be in the spring, when it tends to be cool, less rainy, and fresh.

Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long - Hanoi Locals

Travel Notes

  • Imperial Citadel Of Thang Long dress code requires neat and decent clothes. We recommend T-shirts (or any tops with sleeves), long trousers, and sneakers.
  • If you get bored of day trips, you can join a 1.5-hour night tour at 7 PM on Fridays and Saturdays with special activities. (Contact 0848455222 with Mr.Hai or 0913012021 with Ms.Thu for details.)
  • You should watch and follow the tour guidance placed on the site.
  • All kinds of weapons, explorative or inflammable substances, toxins, and sources of heavy smells are banned.
  • You mustn’t cause harmful or disrespectful acts such as swearing, making scribbles on the relics, littering, triggering disorders, etc.
  • Flycams and filmmaking have to get permission from the authorities.

Nearby Attractions

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is in the city’s heart, which makes it favorable for visitors to tour other famous places in Hanoi. We suggest the top attractions near Thang Long Imperial Citadel as follows:

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex (including Ba Dinh Square, Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House, and One Pillar Pagoda): under 1 kilometer away
  • Hanoi Temple Of Literature: 1.1 kilometers away
  • Hanoi Old Quarter: 2.5 kilometers away
  • Hoan Kiem Lake: 2.5 kilometers away
  • Hanoi Opera House: 4 kilometers away


In short, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long plays incomparable roles in the development of Hanoi and Vietnam. It was the heart of many feudal dynasties, the witness of fierce wars, and the protector of its national history. Besides the architectural values, it carries the values of Vietnam’s culture, history, and archaeology.

Visitors to Hanoi and Vietnam should take a chance and drop by this special place once. It promises to impress you. Thanks for reading.

Hanoi Locals

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