CNN has recently released the list of 21 greatest World Heritage Sites on the planet, and it is the central Ho Dynasty Citadel of Vietnam that topped the list.
According to CNN, since 1993, Vietnam has eight locations recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO while another seven are waiting for formal classification. Many of these sites are of great natural and historical significance, such as Halong bay and the complex of monuments in Hue. But the citadel to most recently acquire UNESCO’s seal of approval (in 2011) is the almost unknown Ho Citadel, situated in a remote backwater of Thanh Hoa Province, around 150 kilometers south of Hanoi. The choice of the Ho Citadel for such a prestigious honor is strange for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the Ho Dynasty lasted just seven years (1400-1407). It is like a mere drop in the ocean of Vietnam’s turbulent history.
Secondly, the citadel is empty. It has nothing inside – no palaces, no temples, no monuments – just four walls surrounding nothing but farmland. However, according to UNESCO, the citadel represents “an outstanding example of a new style of Southeast Asian imperial city”.
The Citadel of Ho Dynasty are the remains of a late 14th century castle constructed from stone blocks. It was constructed by the Hồ Dynasty from 1397 on. It is a symbol of neo-Confucianism.
This site consists of two parts, one each side of Vinh Loc village in the province of Thanh Hoa. The Citadel is almost a kilometer square surrounded by earth and masonry walls. In the center of each side are masonry arched gateways. The area within the walls is now rice paddy.
If you have time to Vietnam, don’t miss your way to the Ho Citadel to understand a small part of Vietnam history. And in case you need a visa, you may obtain one in two ways:
- Apply for a visa on arrival via Vietnamvisa.hk in case you travel to the country by air; OR
- Apply for a visa at Vietnam Embassy.