Son Tay Ancient Citadel – A must visit Hanoi Relic

The Son Tay Ancient Citadel is located in Son Tay Town,  Hanoi Outskirt, which is in the area of two ancient villages: Thuan Nghe and Mai Trai. The citadel’s wall was 4m in width and there were many kennels at the top of the wall for the soldiers to hide inside the citadel to shoot or defense their enemies using multi- function spears or broadswords

This is ancient military architectural works built in the domination of King Minh Mang in the 19th century. The citadel had four gates facing 4 distinct directions: east, west, south and north, namely the Front (Tiền), the Back (Hậu), the Right (Hữu) and the Left (Tả). Each entrance has a guard tower. 

With were specific structures, inside the citadel were built proportionally on the central South-North axle. In the center was decrees palace (Vong Cung Nu) where the king could rest and mandarins in the area annually organized offering rites or bowed from a distance when they received the royal decrees. In front of Kinh Thien Palace was a large brick-paved courtyard. Outside the entrance was a screen built with bricks and engraved with the image of “long van Khanh hoi” (dragons and clouds). Next was Doan Mon with three gates looking to the Ky dai (flagpole), 18cm high, built on a large laterite platform.

                                           Outside of Son Tay Ancient Citadel

Vo Mieu located in the west built to worship those who laid down their lives to protect the citadel. At the four corners of the citadel were four square walls, 6m in depth, that have steps built by laterite leading to the wells’ bottom. Nearby were residential buildings and the law courts of the provinces’ mandarins. In the east, there was a prison, a food store and the residences of the soldiers' wives in the citadel.

In 1884, the French military army occupied the citadel and in 1924, Martial Henri Merlin, Governor-General of French Indochina, issued a decree to rank the ancient citadel as a Hanoi relic. After more than 20 years later, the Government of Vietnam Democratic Republic held an important meeting in the citadel.

Sadly, most of the Son Tay Ancient Citadel has been spoiled by wars and time and only a few relics are preserved, including some stretches of the citadel walls, the citadel gates, guard towers, Kinh Thien’s Palace grounds, wells and two cannons.

Owing to its cultural and historical value, in 1994, the Ministry of Culture and Information recognized the Son Tay Ancient Citadel as a National Architectural Historical Relic. In 2009, Hanoi People’s Committee issued a decision to upgrade and restore some relics in the ancient citadel to welcome the 1000th  anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi.

Nowadays, The Son Tay Ancient Citadel has become a unique military architectural work and cultural historical relic, impressing many tourists in Hanoi Journey. Coming here, you will surely never forget the image of hundred-year-old trees giving shade all year round and stretching their roots to cover the mossy citadel walls and gates. Son Tay Ancient Citadel significantly contributes to promoting a beautiful image of Hanoi travel to international friends. 


Son Tay Ancient Citadel