Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Ninh Binh Province

From south of Hanoi about 100km along 1A National Highway, Hoa Lu ancient capital was located in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province. In 968, Dinh Bo Linh ascended the throne, called Tien Hoang Dinh, the country named Dai Co Viet. Tien Hoang Dinh selected Hoa Lu, a magnificent and rugged mountains as the capital – “rock capital”.

Dai Viet historical summary recorded “In first year of Khai Bao name date (968) Trieu King was Tong Thai To, Bo Linh Dinh claimed Emperor in Hoa Lu caves, then built palace, created ritual of the court, arranged the Emperior court and named as ‘Dai Thang Minh King’.

At here he built palace, built walls, digged trench, based on mountain to build a solid defence as a insurance fortress stand isolated with outside.  The capital of Hoa Lu is surrounded by arc rocky mountains, spectacular landscape. The space between mountain slopes was sealed by soil and ceramics as base of the world which is bundle of bricks up from 8-10m high. There are still many traces of wall.

Tien Hoang Dinh king has known fully exploit nature to serve human. This architecture saved human power and asset. It can be said, the capital of Hoa Lu is a strong military made by natural and human. The North wall is located at Hoang Long River, therefore it was very convenient water traffic. The suburban area was located in Yen Thuong village, Yen Thanh and Truong Yen Commune, the main palace where Dinh King’s water flagged is now the temple of Dinh King and Le King.

In front of palace is Ma Yen Mountain. The Legend said that “Dinh Tien Hoang took this mountain as an altar. In Yen Thanh village, there are still many temples as a part of palace architecture in the region. It is Nhat Tru Pagoda built in the reign of Dai Hanh Le King, in front of the temple has stone columns, 4,16 m high in octagon shape which was engraved Shurangama Sutra by the King to offer Buddha, creating spiritual beauty, holy and to convey cosmic energy. Kim Phat Temple was worship of third daughter of Tien Hoang Dinh King. The princess would rather jump into a well to commit suicide to refuse following her husband against her father. In the old suburbs, there were many other ancient temples which were built by the Dinh Dynasty as Dia temple, Thap temple, Ba Ngo temple, etc... The inner Citadel was wider through suburbs by a mountain called Quen Vong with East Bridge, Ren Bridge, etc… which were made by stone, as a place to care for kids and food storages. Outside the citadel, there were many protection checkpoints. The Citadel was located between large mountains, a high level of military, discreet location, convenient for defensive, offensive, far from the frontier. It made difficulty for understanding of the Northern invaders and opened lightning attacks.

At the Northeast, there was Cot Co mountain, where Dinh King placed water flag. The King stood to parade navy in Sao Khe River. Southeastern suburb had Am Tien caves on halfway up the mountain, where Ding King fed tigers to punish the guilties and at the foot of the mountain, there was Giai pond, where the King threw the guilties for maggots eating. There were also Salt caves and Money caves, etc… where Ding King stored food and treasury.

All mountain rivers and areas were bobbed by nature and artificiality like a Ha Long Bay on land has formed an solemn, grand and liberal architectural complex that was not found out by any ancients.

In early Le Dynasty, when Van Nga Duong Queen Mother saw dangerous threaten of invaders but Toan Dinh King at a young age could not lead the war resistance, therefore she throned Hoan Le became the King. Dai Hanh Le King had built more splendid palace, made Hoa Lu capital more gradually perfect during 42 years of existence (968-1010). The capital of Hoa Lu was mainly the headquarter of two kings cum army commander Tien Hoang Dinh and Dai Hanh Le. It was also the birth place of a new dynasty “Ly Dynasty” when moving to Dai La (Thang Long). To commemorate labor of the foundations, where was independently built for country. To remember the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, Ly Thai To used some bridges and temples names of the Hoa Lu ancient capital to name for many areas in Thang Long and have been existed to nowaday as O Cau temple, Trang Tien town, Mot Cot temple. Nowaday, the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, tourists not only visit the old temples, ancient caves intact to nowaday but also saw traces of rock capital. In main areas of the old capital, our people have built temples of Dinh King and Le King with unique architectural, exquisitely and reminiscent style for golden splendor of the old palace and old folk art carved on very skilled and meticulous wood and stone.

In front of Dinh Temple, on top of Ma Yen mountain with 265 sidestep, there was tomp of Dinh King, where people have put up corpse of the king for burial. An immortal human remain was sitting on the saddle to save people and country.

From here, visitors can see panoramic of ancient capital and view every mountain, river with many mysterious legends. Along with the above-ground monuments, archeology has recently been discovered and excavated below the ground floor between the two temples of Dinh King and Le King which was palace over 1000 years ago. There were precious artifacts which were evidence for architecture of the Hoa Lu ancient capital and developing level of the architecture, art, economics, culture and society of Vietnam people at that time.

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