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West Lake and Truc Bach Lake are an attractive part of the city. The two lakes are separated by Thanh Nien Road, which is almost one kilometre long. It is bordered by rows of willow and bang lang trees and is a favourite of young lovers West Lake, also called Ho Tay, is the biggest lake in Hanoi. Covering an area of 500ha in Tay Ho District, West Lake was created when the Red (Hong) River overflowed.
West Lake was once a resort for mandarins and kings. Many palaces, including Thuy Hoa Palace, Ham Nguyen Sanctuary, Tu Hoa Palace, Kim Lien Pagoda, and Ngoc Dam Palace were built on the banks of the lake. The 17km path around the lake leads to Nghi Tarn Flower Village, Nhat Tan Peach Garden, Kirn Lien Pagoda and Tay Ho Temple, built in honour of Princess Lieu. Today, many hotels of all sizes can be found around the lake,
West Lake is a very popular recreational place for the Hanoians who come to enjoy typical dishes such as Ho Tay shrimp cakes, Ho Tay snail noodles and Ho Tay fish.
In June 1966, house No 66 on Nguyen Thai Hoc street in Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, was transformed into the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. Approximately 10,000 works, objects, restored articles, reproductions, pictures, and paintings are displayed in 16 showrooms according to the following divisions:
* Ethnic minorities
* Primitive eras: Neolithic Age, Bronze Age, and Paleolithic Age
* Feudalism: 11th to 18th centuries
* Ancient sculpture: outstanding works from the 11th to 19th centuries
* Folk paintings
* Technologic fine arts
* Fine arts before the August 1945 Revolution
* Resistance against French troops (1940-1954)
* From 1954 to now
There are also numerous collections of specific fine-art exhibitions such as ancient stone sculptures, fine arts from the Bronze Age, antique pottery, ethnic minority paintings, and lacquer paintings. The Vietnam Fine Arts Museum is a lively historical treasure depicting the origins and evolution of Vietnamese fine arts.
Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam is a famous historical and cultural relic consisting of the Temple of Literature and Vietnam’s first university.
Located in the centre of Hanoi, Van Mieu, or the Temple of Literature, is the oldest school in Vietnam, giving it the distinction of being the most significant temple in both Hanoi and Vietnam. It is representative of Confucian ways of thought and behavior, and is a historical and cultural relic.
According to historical records, during the 8th lunar month of the Canh Tuat Year (1070), King Ly Thanh Tong erected several important monuments, including the Temple of Literature and the carvings of Confucius, Chu Cong, four disciples, and 72 other scholars who were considered to be model Confucians. Ceremonies were dedicated to them once every season of the year. Crown princes were traditionally educated here.
In 1076, Vietnam's first university, Quoc Tu Giam (National University), was established under the direction of King Ly Nhan Tong near Van Mieu for the purpose of instructing the children of Mandarins, aristocrats, and the brightest commoners. During its more than 700 years of instruction (1076-1779), Quoc Tu Giam educated thousands of talented men for Vietnam. Among the most notable are the mathematician Luong The Vinh, the historian Ngo Sy Lien, the encyclopedist Ly Don, and the politician-diplomat Ngo Thi Nham.
After more than 900 years of existence, repair and renovation, Quoc Tu Giam is still an example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture. Also preserved within these confines are valued relics representing the Millenary civilization, such as stelae with inscriptions of the names of distinguished scholars, the Well of Heavenly Clarity (Thien Quang Tinh), the pavilion in dedication of the Constellation of Literature (Khue Van Cac), the statue of Confucius, the Great House of Ceremonies, the ancient wall, kowtow portico and the sanctuary, the stone dragons, and the ink stone stands. Secular trees, such as the banyan and frangipani, were present during literary meetings, festivals and examinations that occurred during the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties. They continue to flourish.
Particularly impressive is the collection of 82 stone stele, which rest upon large stone tortoises. They were created between 1484 and 1780 and are engraved with the names, places of birth and achievements of the 1,306 doctor laureates that received their degrees during this time span. These steles were erected to encourage learning and bestow honor on the talented men who assisted the Kings in defending the country.
An important historical and cultural vestige of Vietnam, Van Mieu and Quoc Tu Giam are currently under repair to restore their original appearance.
Located in Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh precinct, Hanoi, the One Pillar Pagoda is a cultural and historic relic, unique for its architectural features.
The pagoda was first built in 1049 under the Ly dynasty, on the west side of the ancient Thang Long capital. Its original name was Dien Huu, expressing the wish for longevity for the second Ly King. The pagoda is built in the shape of a lotus blooming on its stem.
The pagoda was built after the description of a dream of King Ly Thai Tong , who reigned between 1028 and 1054, in which Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Goddess of Mercy, led him to a lotus flower.
The actual One-Pillar Pagoda is the miniature reconstruction of a large, ancient, royal Buddhist building.
After two years of construction, President Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum was officially inaugurated on 29 August 1975. This project was the result of a close collaboration between engineers from Vietnam and the former Soviet Union in order to keep the remains of President Ho Chi Minh, a great patriot who was later conferred the title of "World Cultural Activist" in 1990 on the occasion of his centenary birthday.
The mausoleum is divided into three floors. The first floor is a terraced stand exclusively used for grand meetings organised at Ba Dinh Square. The second floor is the centre of the mausoleum, where the remains of the president are kept in a chamber, accessible through a series of passages and flights of marble stairs. The upper floor is the roof. The facade of the upper floor bears the inscription "President Ho Chi Minh" in dark violet, precious stone The mausoleum is open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. In summer, it is open from 7.30am to 10.30 am; in winter, from Sam to 11am. The hours are extended by 30 minutes on Sundays and holidays. The Mausoleum is usually closed from September 5 to December 10 for maintenance. Photography is not allowed inside the mausoleumThe Mausoleum is the everlasting rest house of the greatest leader of Vietnam
This museum is located near the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It was completed on May 19th 1990, on the occasion of President Ho Chi Minh's birthday.
The museum is housed in a 4-storey building covering a total area of 10,000 m2. The museum is designed in the shape of a lotus flower, as a symbol of President Ho's noble character.
The main showroom displays more than 2,000 documents, articles, pictures, and exhibits illustrating not only historical events that took place in president Ho Chi Minh's life, but also important events that occurred in the rest of the world since the end of the 19th century.
The museum contains other rooms such as a library, a large hall, meeting rooms and research rooms.
Since its opening, the museum has welcomed millions of local and international visitors. It is open daily from 8am to 11 am and 1.30am to 4.30pm (Except Monday). Photography is forbidden. Cameras and bags must be left at the reception.
On Dien Bien Phu street stands the Hanoi Flag Tower, one of the rare architectural works in Hanoi that was fortunate enough not to be destroyed by the French colonialists between 1894 and 1897. It is one of the symbols of the capital.
It was built in 1812 in a prism shape and is composed of three platforms and a tower built with three layers made of baked bricks. It was used by the French troops as an observation tower and communication station between the command headquarters and adjacent military posts.
The first storey is 42.5 m wide and 3.1 m high. Access to the first storey is through two brick stairs. The second storey is 27 m wide and 3.7 m high, with four doors. The eastern door bears the two characters Nghenh Huc (reception of the morning sunlight), the western door bears the two characters Hoi Quang (reflected light), and the southern door bears the characters Huong Minh (towards the light). There is nothing written on the northern door. The third storey is 12.8 m wide and 5.1 m high. Access is through a stair reaching a northern door.
There is a tower upon the third storey. The tower is a truncated octagonal pyramid, 2 m wide and 18.2 m high. A 54 step helicoidal stair is built inside the tower. The stair is lit and aired by 45 openings placed in groups of four or five all along the tower.
And there is eventually a small tower over the tower. The upper tower is octagonal, 3.3 m high, with one window in each side. On the top of the tower, in the middle, there is a cylindrical column, 0.4 m in diameter, used to attach the flag, whose pole is 8 m high.
Therefore, the height of the tower is 33.4 m and more than 41 m if the flag pole is counted.
The success of the August 1945 Revolution resulted in the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and since then, the Red Flag with a Yellow Star has flown over the tower. From here, there are unbeatable panoramic views of the city.
Lake of the Restored Sword, is located in the center of Hanoi. The name Lake of the Restored Sword is derived from a legend. Emperor Le Loi, worried about advancing Chinese, was boating on the lake when a giant tortoise rose from the murky waters. The tortoise presented him with a magical sword with which he could strike down all foes. The tortoise made Le Loi promise to bring back the sword upon the defeat of the Chinese. The tortoise rose again to take back the sword following the success of Le Loi's campaign, and since then the lakes has been known as the Lake of the Restored Sword.
A solitary pagoda on an islet to the west side of the lake has been built in the tortoise's honor.The pleasant surroundings of the lake make for a perfect break to much out on a baguette or finish off a book. There are park benches all around the lake, though the east side is nicer and slightly quieter. Around sunset it is difficult of find a free seat as young couples congregate to spend tome in each others arms. There is also a plethora of shoe shiners and food vendors here, but be warned, some of the cute children selling postcards have very light fingers so watch your pockets at all times around this lake. Early in the morning the lakeside is a popular venue for Tai Chi and exercise. At the northern end of the lake is Ngoc Son Pagoda, or pagoda of the jade mountain, located on Jade Island. The access to the island is by an old red wooden bridge, the Bridge of the Rising Sun. Built during the 19th century, this pagoda honors Van Xuong, the spirit of the intellectuals, and Tran Hung Dao as well as others. At the entrance to the bridge there are two monuments constructed in 1864, one representing an ink brush (a tower of 9m tall) and the other an inkwell (a hollow rock held by tree frogs). In the early morning of the festival of Doan Ngo, held on the fifth day of the fifth month, the shadow of the brush is positioned at the center of the inkwell. The pagoda is a great place to escape the chaos of the Hanoi streets.
It is said that when visiting Hanoi, if the visitor does not see the Restore Sword Lake, then they would not have actually been in Hanoi. The Lake is an endless topic and inspiration for painters, poets, writers, music composers, etc, and innumerable works about the Lake have been produced.
The Sword Lake is really an emerald jewel of Hanoi capital. For generations, the Vietnamese people believed that deep in the green water of the Sword Lake, there is a sacred sword of their ancestors, which is carefully safeguarded by the golden tortoise. When the weather changes, the tortoise emerges on the water surface to take a sun bath, seeming to prove his existence and remind the young generation of their national history of defending their country from foreign invaders.
The very best of these ‘factories’ are recognized by Vietnamese people as the best producers of a particular object; and enjoy national recognition for their handiwork. Everything from firecrackers to silk paintings; woodcarvings to ceramics and puppets to pottery are made in these locations and can make unique gifts for friends and family at home; or as an exotic reminder of your trip to Vietnam. When paying a visit; you can chat with these artisans; and even try the handiwork yourself.
The Bat Trang pottery village is one of the most famous of the craft villages in Vietnam. It’s so close to Hanoi; you can visit it on a half day tour. Famous for its fired clay pottery (with a temperature of 1;200 degrees; the ceramics are well known for being difficult to break) Since the 15th century this village of the 2;000 families has been creating earthenware and ceramic creations.
Villagers gather mulberry leaves to feed the hungry silkworms. The traditional way of growing silkworms was imported from China; and today flourishes in many parts of the country. When the worms have woven a silken cocoon; the animals are boiled and the cocoon is carefully unraveled. The thread is carefully woven into all sorts of different things like placemats; shirts; etc.
Village This village is located in Ha Bac province; the province just north of Hanoi. It’s been made famous for the folk themes printed onto a special paper made from the Do tree. Artisans in this village carve images onto thin wood blocks that are carefully layered with paint; then printed onto the specially made paper. These designs are particularly popular around Tet.