Ancient capital city of Hoa Lu, Vietnam

Erhu player at Hoa Lu city gates. Photo by Gizelle Lau.
Photo by Gizelle Lau.

Just two hours from the brawling scooter-filled streets of Hanoi, you’ll find the wondrous and mysterious ancient capital city of Hoa Lu.

Aside from the sounds of the rare rooster crow and pentatonic melody coming from this erhu player sitting at the gate – there’s a quiet, eerie calm that shrouds this 10th century capital.

Hoa Lu was the ruling capital from 968 to 1010 and was the region’s economic, cultural, and political centre.  Nestled within giant limestone mountain ranges along the Red River Delta region of Vietnam, the location was precisely chosen because it acted as a natural fortress from its enemies. 

At its height, Hoa Lu was once filled with large palaces, stunning temples, and shrines.  With time, most of the city’s splendour was ravaged and lost but many structures and clues of the city’s past still remain today – temples, pillars, and pagodas dedicated to old kings and royal families – more recently restored in the 17th century by archaeologists.

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