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Restore Sword Lake Photo - Hanoi Travel information - Hanoi Toursist AttractionThe oldest and one of the most attractive capital cities in Southeast Asia, Hanoi exudes a rare sense of gracious charm and timelessness. At its core exists a 600-year-old ancient quarter, augmented by a century-old colonial city. Today, the rich cultural heritage of both blends in perfect harmony with growing modernization, as Hanoi claims its position as the heart of Vietnam.

Hanoi, the “City within the River’s Bend,” was founded by Emperor Ly Thai To in AD 1010, near Co Loa, the ancient capital of the first Viet state dating back to the 3rd century BC. Ly Thai To structured this city, then known as Thang Long, around the massive citadel. To the east of this, a settlement of guilds was established to serve the needs of the royal court. By the 16th century, this area had developed into Hanoi’s celebrated Old Quarter.

The arrival of the French in the 19th century marked a period of reconstruction, as they tore down parts of the citadel and some ancient temples to make way for the new European quarter. However, this cultural vandalism was compensated for, to a large extent, by the magnificent colonial architecture they bequeathed the city. During the first Indochina War, the city’s central districts escaped largely unharmed, and subsequently, in 1954, Hanoi was proclaimed the capital of independent Vietnam. Sadly, this was not the end of its violent history as it was then plunged into the conflict-ridden years against the US. Hanoi entered the 21st century a little run down yet structurally sound despite the years of warfare. The Opera House is still grand, as is the Sofitel Metropole Hotel.

Today, Hanoi is emerging as an elegant, cultured, and affluent city, where museums and galleries coexist with chic shops and fashionable restaurants. One can wander, in a few minutes, from the narrow streets of the Old Quarter to the imposing mansions and buildings lining the leafy boulevards of the former French Quarter. Hanoi’s past has also ensured a superb culinary legacy, where French and Chinese cuisines blend marvelously with the Viet traditions. The same is true of Hanoi’s lively arts scene, which is among the most sophisticated in Southeast Asia.

Hanoi Old Quarter
Buzzing with noise and activity, the Old Quarter is the oldest and most lively commercial district in Hanoi. During the 13th century, several artisans settled along the Red River to cater to the needs of the palace. Later, the crafts became concentrated in this area, with each street specializing in a particular product. Over the years, 36 distinct crafts guilds came into existence, and the area earned its nickname of 36 streets. Today, with narrow alleys packed with hundreds of small shops, restaurants, and ancient tube houses, the Old Quarter retains its historic charm.

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