Once stood a glorious Imperial Capital in the middle of endless rice paddies hemmed by hundred limestone hills that was Hoa Lu. It was the seat of power as well as the ancient Northern Empire’s economical and political center. For centuries the mighty kings of the North ruled its people with abundance and so much wealth in the land exalted for its natural charm. The city was a formidable fortress of great splendor. Its architectural genius was unmatched. It was a place where the bravest warriors were honed to last the greatest of battles and was a playground for the young princes and princesses whose names would soon mark the history books of Vietnam.
Hoa Lu’s isolation rendered the enemy armies a whole lot of disadvantage which made the capital invulnerable to oncoming onslaughts. The capital was not just a beauty to behold but was also a work of pure tactical genius. There was only one access to get in and out of the city and that was through Hoang Long River interconnected to a river system that eventually leads to the ocean. This magnificent river system that stretches from the provinces of Ninh Binh and other northern provinces to Hanoi served as the life source of the empire with supplies and arsenals being transported only through it. For the common people, Hoang Long River served as their source of livelihood with trade being concentrated at its banks near the Imperial Capital.
Hoa Lu was impenetratable and was barely tested by its enemies’ forces for the longest time but the fact remains that one cannot thrive alone. The Imperial Capital’s tactical advantage though a masterpiece was also its economical and political downfall. With the Empire being accessible only though a precarious river system, Hoa Lu barely made connections to the outside world limiting economical and political growth which are essential factors for an empire to survive. Perhaps due to this reason and other consideration that the Ly Dynasty was compelled to establish Hanoi as the capital after the demise of its predecessors.
The glory of Hoa Lu as the Imperial Capital may have been lost in the mist of time but the splendid beauty that it was remained and has weathered althroughout the centuries. Today, Hoa Lu is the most visited tourist destination in the province of Ninh Binh with hundreds of eager souls thirsting to witness its grandeur in plain sight. There stood temples of the great emperors Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Han. For the foreign eye, Hoa Lu may be another place off the bucketlist but for the souls who revere the ancient empire, this is a place sacred to honor their once mighty rulers.
HOW TO GO THERE
Many tour agencies in Hanoi offer a day tour to Hoa Lu for $21 which covers everything (Buffet Lunch, Entrance Fees, Transportation & Bicycle Rental). The tour is normally clubbed with a tour to Tam Coc or Bich Dong which kicks off early at 5:30 AM and gets you back to Hanoi no later than 7:00 PM. If you want to do the tour to Ninh Binh province on your own, you can ask tour operators in Hanoi for a transfer which normally cost VND 200.000. Another option is to take the bus or the train going to Ninh Binh then taking the necessary transportation to get to each tourist spots in the province.
FEATURES OF THE LOST CAPITAL
Although the original citadel no longer exist, the palaces and temples in Hoa Lu are still in tact. Here are some of what’s left to the once glorious Imperial Capital.
TEMPLE OF DINH TIEN HOANG
TEMPLE OF LE DAI HAN
There you go lovely folks. Hoa Lu is one of those places in Vietnam you definitely don’t wanna miss. The scene is just marvelous.
Have you been to Hoa Lu? Let’s chat. Let me know what you think in the comments box below.
Planning to include Hoa Lu in your upcoming trip to Vietnam? Don’t be shy and let me help you plan your itinerary.
Ayt. until next time. See yah. 🙂