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Co Loa Special National Relic recognized as tourist destination
Jenna Duong 14:37, 2021/11/18
The recognition of the Special National Relic of Co Loa as a place of tourist interest once again confirmed that the Co Loa Citadel relic complex, with both tangible and intangible values, is a precious heritage of the country.

Pursuant to a decision recently issued by the Hanoi People’s Committee recognizing the Co Loa Special National Relic as a tourist attraction (Co Loa Commune, Dong Anh District), the Thang Long Heritage Conservation Center - Hanoi is tasked with managing, operating, and developing the place in accordance with the Tourism Law and related documents.

Great historical value

The Co Loa relic site. Photo: Minh Thu

According to folklore, King An Duong Vuong defeated the last of the Hung Kings in 257BC and founded Au Lac State, choosing the site of Co Loa as his capital. Located some 20km north of Hanoi center, Co Loa was believed as the capital of the Au Lac State under King An Duong Vuong’s reign around the 3rd century BC.

The citadel is considered the oldest building in Vietnam with the most large-scale structure and long historic stories. Its name “Co Loa” is derived from the Sino-Vietnamese for “old spiral” as the structure is built in a spiral shape.

According to historian, cultural researcher Quoc Phong, Hanoi had a thousand-year history, a long-standing culture, a glorious revolutionary tradition, representing the cultural and heroic tradition, peace, and friendship of the nation.

“Co Loa, Dong Do, Thang Long, Hanoi were believed to represent the thousand-year history of the nation – a heroic nation, where the mountains and rivers formed for thousands of years. Hanoi was sacred and splendid with faith and hope,” he told The Hanoi Times.

Reports of a recent seminar held by Hanoi’s Centre for Learning and Developing the Capital, on the topic of restoring the Lien Chau crossbow during King An Duong Vuong’s reign showed that the crossbow was mysterious but true.

The statue of King An Duong Vuong in the ancient citadel of Co Loa/ Photo: Hanoi Day Tour Travel

The arrow named “Co Loa” was convincingly restored and fired by engineer Vu Dinh Thanh (who now works at a weapons corporation in Russia).

Thereby, it confirmed that the legend of “the magic crossbow” as well as An Duong Vuong dynasty and Au Lac State is real in Vietnam national history.

Tourism potential

Co Loa Special National Relic (Co Loa Relic Site) straddles across the communes of Co Loa, Viet Hung, Duc Tu, and Uy No in Dong Anh District. The citadel was once the capital, a military base, as well as a commercial center in Vietnam.

Currently, the area planned for conservation of the relic comprises 830 hectares, with about 60 vestiges (including seven national-level sites) of architectural-artistic, historical, revolutionary, and archaeological values.

In the ground of Co Loa, archaeologists have unearthed a variety of artifacts, which show the continuous development of the Red River Civilization. Over the past 40 years, 3 large-scale excavations have been conducted in this area (in 1970, 2005, and 2007-2008) which uncovered such vestiges as defensive ramparts, kitchen, Dong Son pottery cluster, brick and tile furnaces, among others.

Architectural model of the ancient citadel. DisanTrangAn.vn

It is also one of Vietnam’s top 10 monuments and beautiful landscapes that have been listed as Special National Relics by the Prime Minister on September 27, 2012.

For the local people, the citadel still plays an important role in their spiritual life and cultural practices. Every year on the 6th of the first lunar month, they organize the Co Loa Festival, which attracts visitors from all over the world.

Visiting the place in the Spring, visitors will have the opportunity to take part in the Co Loa Festival organized by the 12 hamlets of the village. Thuc Phan An Duong Vuong was remembered for building Co Loa citadel and for ruling Au Lac for 50 years, 3rd century BC.

Besides the ceremonial rites in honor of King An Duong Vuong at the Upper Temple, there is an imposing and solemn procession of 12 palankeens going round the Trong Thuy Well to the Village gate. Moreover, at the festival, people also put a lot of effort into celebrating traditional activities.

The Co Loa Festival. Photo: Thanh Hai 

The highlight of the festival was the processions of King An Duong Vuong and his daughter. The literature procession is preceded by a flag that symbolizes the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth), a musical company, and a sacrifice. This procession featuring two sedan chairs proceeds through the 12 hamlets of Co Loa Commune. One carries a small statue of the King, the other a beheaded statue of his daughter which symbolizes her punishment. The procession then continues to the Trong Thuy Well and back to the various hamlets, accompanied by firecrackers.

However, for the international tourist market, Co Loa is not considered an attractive destination, partly because the promotion is not up to the caliber of this interesting historical site.

“The recognition of Co Loa as a national tourist destination will attract more tourists to this little-known relic site. Besides, it also contributes positively to tourism development, adding more budget for the locality as well as the capital,” My Anh, a tour guide in Hanoi told The Hanoi Times.

Co Loa today is not only a cultural heritage, a proof of the ancient Vietnamese’s creativity, technical and cultural capabilities in defending the country against foreign invaders, but also an ideal destination for tourists around the world to discover the cultural values and typical scenery of a peaceful village in Northern Vietnam.


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