Hanoi
.: Vietname

In 1010 Hanoi, at that time known by the name of Thang Long, became capital of the first Vietnamese dynasty independent from the Chinese. The city received its present name, Hanoi, only in 1831. However, at that time not Hanoi but Hué was the capital of the Vietnamese empire.

In 1882 Hanoi was conquered by a French expedition. In 1883 France forced the then uncolonialized North of the Vietnamese empire to accept the status of a French protectorate. The French administratively divided the country into the colony Cochin China (in the South) and the protectorates Annam (central Vietnam) and Tonkin (North Vietnam). Hanoi became the capital of the protectorate Tonkin.

Vast parts of present-day Hanoi were built during the French colonial occupation. With its broad boulevards and a French-inspired architecture the city has a noticeable structural charm.

The French abandoned Hanoi after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu and the division of Vietnam into two separate states according to the Geneva Treaty signed on July 20, 1954. Ho Chi Minh made Hanoi the capital of North Vietnam and initially concentrated on the expansion of the city\'s industry.

During the US bombardments of North Vietnam from March 1965 to October 1968 the authorities evacuated 75 % of Hanoi\'s population. After the end of the bombardments the city again grew rapidly. Today the population of Hanoi counts more than 3 million.

Nevertheless, the city does not seem as crowded as Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon. And even though Hanoi is the political capital of the country, Ho Chi Minh City definitely is ahead economically.


The Perfume Pagoda, the pagoda, or rather an accumulation of several pagodas about 60 kilometers southwest of Hanoi, is considered one of the most beautiful places in all of North Vietnam. The pagodas and shrines are in between and even inside various limestone caves. The grounds are a favourite destination for Vietnamese pilgrims.


 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the mausoleum, built from 1973 to 1975 in a style similar to that of the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow, is located at Ba Dinh Square, where Ho Chi Minh publicly declared Vietnam's independence on September 2, 1945. Right after his death on September 3, 1969, Ho Chi Minh's body was embalmed by a team of Soviet experts. Visitors to the mausoleum are expected to behave devoutly.


The One Pillar Pagoda, the One Pillar Pagoda is one of the few monuments of Vietnam dating back to the time of the founding of the first Vietnamese empire independent from China in the 11th century. However, the present pagoda is not the original building. After it has repeatedly been damaged or destroyed in its almost 1,000 years of existence, it was renovated and rebuilt over and over again. The last reconstruction took place in 1955, after the French colonial forces had blown it up before their retreat in 1954. The original pagoda had been constructed in 1049 under Emperor Ly Thai Tong, after a goddess had appeared in his dreams and allegedly handed a son to him.

The Temple of Literature, this pagoda and the surrounding complex have played a prominent role in the history of Vietnamese thinking. Originally it had been built in 1070 in honour of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, whose teachings have influenced Vietnam almost as strongly as they have shaped China. This temple has been for centuries the place where exams for the rank of Mandarin were taken. The exams lasted for 35 days and were extremely difficult. In 1733, for instance, only 8 out of 3,000 candidates passed the exams.


Halong Bay, located about 170 kilometers east of Hanoi near the most important North Vietnamese port city of Haiphong, is of a breathtaking scenic beauty. More than 3,000 islands, islets and limestone rocks rise from the waters of the bay. The coast is rocky and perforated by numerous caves and grottoes with ancient stalactite and stalagmite formations. Halong Bay has a fairylike landscape and has indeed for centuries inspired Vietnamese poets.

 

 


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