Hanoi, Journey To The Banks Of The Red River



Imagine a city where the exotic elegance of the past Asia blends with the dynamic Asia today, in which the Middle Ages survives next to the modern, a city that combines the Paris thanks to the Oriental rhythms, a kind of museum architecture evolving in harmony with its own history, without giving up the bulldozers that plagued many other towns of the region. This is Hanoi, the historic capital of the state of Vietnam. Survived American bombs and Soviet urban planning, Hanoi has risen, relatively unscathed, with the economic and social reforms of the 90s. Imposing buildings delineate broad avenues, parks and lakes and dot the city, providing a romantic backdrop to the chaos that grips a city of 3,500,000 inhabitants grew too fast.

The site currently occupied by Hanoi is inhabited since Neolithic times, even if it is from 1010 AD, when Emperor Ly Thai To moved his capital the name of Thang Long, which have precise enough news in the area. In 2010, on the occasion of the thousandth anniversary of the birth of the city, there are spectacular celebrations that should attract onlookers from around the world. Hanoi was proclaimed the capital of Vietnam after the August Revolution of 1945, but only after the agreements of Geneva of 1954 allowed the Viet Minh, who was expelled by the French in 1946, to return. During the war with the U.S. bombing destroyed part of the center and killed hundreds of civilians, but the damage was almost completely repaired.

Hanoi is nestled on the banks of the Song Hong, the “Red River”, connected by two bridges: the Long Bien, reserved for non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians, and the recent Chuong Duong, 600 meters to the south. The charming town is built around the Hoan Kiem Lake, and immediately to the north of this is the Old Quarter is characterized by narrow streets whose name changes every one or two blocks. Along the western edge of the Old Quarter is the ancient citadel of Hanoi, built by Emperor Gia Long. Further to the west stands the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, who stands in a neighborhood in which there are most of the foreign embassies are housed inside the beautiful buildings of the French colonial era.

The starting point for visiting the city can not be the Old Quarter, the heart of Hanoi, a place of ancient history that throbs with vitality and commerce, with the classic background hum of the motors and the air full of exotic aromas. The traffic-congested, street vendors, market stalls on every corner: you can not say that the Old Quarter is a quiet area, but the charm that you try to explore the maze of alleys makes the visitor quickly exceed the subjection initial. Once we review the shops, rimirate the so-called “tunnel houses” and spent some money to the stalls, will not be nothing to do but go to the famous Dong Xuan Market, where you can be considered closed a visit to the neighborhood.

The second pole of attraction of the city is the whole of the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, who was for many Vietnamese the holiest of all holy places. The area is closed to traffic, including parks, monuments, memorials and pagodas, and is usually crowded with pilgrims who come to pay homage to Ho Chi Minh City. The main building is of course the mausoleum, a monumental marble structure built between 1973 and 1975 in which, in a glass sarcophagus, lie the mortal remains of the former prime minister. Behind the mausoleum is a small stilt house where Ho Chi Minh lived for some years between 1958 and 1969, while at his side, in stark contrast to the modest style of the pagoda stands the majestic Presidential Palace, a colonial building built in 1906 as the residence of the Governor General of Indochina. To know for chapter and verse the story of the Vietnamese revolutionary you have to go to Ho Chi Minh Museum, a large concrete structure which covers two areas dedicated respectively to the past and future of the country.

The only refuge from the chaos of the streets of Hanoi are the temples and pagodas. A rare example of traditional Vietnamese architecture is the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, who consecrated to Confucius to honor scholars and men of letters. The building consists of five separate courtyards, are communicating through avenues and doors once reserved for the king. Other beautiful temples are the Ngoc Son Temple, founded in the eighteenth century on an island in the northern part of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Temple of Bach Ma, one of the smallest and oldest in the city, nestled in a corner of the Old Quarter; and Quan Thanh Temple, built during the Ly dynasty (1010-1225) to Tran Vo, the “God of the North”. With regard to the pagodas, the most significant are: the Pagoda of Ambassadors, the official center of Buddhism in Hanoi, situated between Pho Pho Ly Thuong Kiet and Tran Hung Dao, the Tay Ho Pagoda, near which runs up a multitude of faithful every first and fifteenth day of each lunar month, and the Tran Quoc Pagoda, which is located on the eastern shore of Ho Tay, near D Thanh Nien.

A perhaps overlooked aspect of Hanoi is its rich museum landscape, varied and interesting, in which stand out: the Museum of Ethnology Vietnam, which houses a spectacular collection of art objects and tools from all over the country; History Museum, you can see more of the architecture of the building, an elegant ocher built between 1925 and 1932, the Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution, which chronicles the development and history of the revolution, the Museum of Fine Arts, where she was with a generous display that boasts sculptures, paintings, lacquers, ceramics and objects of all kinds, the Museum of Women, an inevitable tribute to women soldiers, the Army Museum, easily identifiable thanks to the large collection of weapons outside, and the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, remnants of the former Hoa Lo Prison, where among others were imprisoned Pete Peterson and Senator John McCain.

A common feature of the city center, the suburbs and the rural area around the city is the presence of numerous lakes. The Hoan Kiem Lake is the heart of the old part of Hanoi, with its islands on which there are the Ngoc Son Temple and the now dilapidated Thap Rua, the “Tower of the Turtle.” Ho Tay Lake is instead the largest in the area, with 13 kilometers in circumference, which are fast becoming the residence of those who can afford a luxury villa. Smaller lakes are included within the Park and Zoo Thu Le, 4 km west of Hoan Kiem Lake. Among the events, the events and festivities deepest part of the population are: Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, which falls between late January and early February, and is celebrated with a colorful trade show character floral, and the Festival of Quang Trung, between February and March, which consists of a series of events connected with sports, and the Vietnamese National Day, celebrated on September 2 with large crowds and fireworks display in Ba Dinh Sq, before the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh.

The climate is determined by two monsoons: the winter, peeping from the northeast between October and March, bringing a wet season and certainly not very hot, and the summer, from April to October, resulting in a warm and humid climate. The advice is to avoid extremes and to leave in April, May or October, while it is to avoid the summer season between July and September when they manifest themselves most of the typhoons. The city’s airport, the Noi Bai International Airport is the main airport of the country and is located approximately 35 kilometers north of the city. The highway that connects the airport to the center is modern and efficient, adjectives that you can not instead spend a good part of other roads that wind around the capital. Is to move to the center, which shifts to longer haul buses are the best alternatives, with many stations scattered in every corner of the city. The railway station is instead located at the western end of Pho Tran Hung Dao.

Originally posted 2012-08-27 06:19:25.

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