Co Loa Citadel - the capital of ancient Au Lac State (21:09 04/04/2018)

HNP – Situated on Phong Khe (Dong Anh suburban district, Ha Noi today), Co Loa Citadel was the capital of ancient Au Lac State (the previous name of Viet Nam) under An Duong Vuong's reign. The relic site is the source of various relics of the Dong Son culture of the Bronze Age.

Co Loa relic site in Dong Anh district, Ha Noi (

About 20 km to the north of Ha Noi’s central, Co Loa relic site covers nearly 500 hectares in Dong Anh district. It is considered as a special cultural destination of the capital city and the country.
Many precious artifacts of the ancient Vietnamese people were excavated Co Loa underground, such as: Co Loa bronze drum, bronze coin, bronze axes, thousands of bronze arrows, plows, objects made of ceramic, terracotta, etc.

As the capital of Au Lac State under An Duong Vuong’s reign at the third century before Christian and the Van Xuan state under Ngo Quyen reign, Co Loa was a very large site and the dominant presence in the northern floodplain of the Red River Delta, which would have required a large amount of laborers and resources to build in its time.

Co Loa Citadel was built in a spiral – shaped type (hence called Loa citadel – a speaker shape citadel). According to the legend, the citadel had 9 walls, and was surrounded by deep moats which could let boats transfer easily. Nowadays, there are only 3 earth walls left, with total length of 16 km: the Outer Wall with perimeter of 8km, the Middle Wall has polygonal shape and perimeter of 6.5 km and the Center Wall has rectangular shape, perimeter of 1.6 km.


Duong Vuong Temple (

Visiting the Co Loa Citadel Complex, travelers will enjoy the peaceful natural landscape of Vietnamese traditional villages in the North. The complex comprises a series of historical, architectural and arts relic sites, such as Thuong temple, Ngu Trieu communal house, Bao Son Pagoda, the temple of Mi Chau princess, etc.

The Thuong Temple (called Thuc Phan An Duong Vuong Temple) was built up in 1687 in Le Hi Tong King’s dynasty, on an old hill that once situated the King’s palace. In front of the temple, there is a dragon stone which was carved very sophisticated, describing a pair of dragons stroking their moustaches vividly. Hence, it  became the typical icon of sculpture art in Le dynasty.


Built in 1907 under the Nguyen dynasty, Ngu Trieu communal house was place for the officials to discuss the country situations. Many important archaeological artifacts  were exhibited here. In Co Loa Citadel Complex, there is a small temple to worship Mi Chau, a princess of ancient Au Lac State.


Co Loa Citadel is well-known not only for its ancient architecture and valuable archaeological artifacts but also for miraculous and interesting legends of the Vietnamese, for example: An Duong Vuong King established its kingdom, constructed the Citadel; the magic crossbow gift from the golden turtle which can kill hundreds of invaders; the sorrowful love story between My Chau (An Duong Vuong King’s daughter) and Trong Thuy (son of Trieu Da King – enemy of An Duong Vuong King), etc.

Co Loa Citadel has not only been a cultural heritage but also a lively evidence of the creation, the technique skills of the Vietnamese. Nowadays, the Citadel plays an important role in cultural life. Every year, Co Loa festival is held to commemorate King An Duong Vuong on the sixth day of the first lunar month of the year.

In 1962, Co Loa was ranked as historical national culture. It also becomes the ideal destination for tourists all over the world who want to discover the cultural values, the familiar landscape of a peaceful northern village.

By Tran Huong

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