Co Loa Citadel



Co Loa Citadel

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The first known capital of an  independent Vietnamese king- dom, this ancient fortress dates  from a time when mythological history was slowly evolving into historical fact. The stories surrounding its creation and subsequent fall rest on oral tradition long since written down but impossible to verify.

Believed to have been built by King An Duong Vuong  in the 3rd century BC, the citadel was invaded soon after by the Chinese. According to legend, the son of the Chinese general tricked An Duong’s daughter, My Chau, into giving  him her father’s magic cross- bow, which was used by the  Chinese to defeat the king. Fact or fic tion, the remains of this great citadel and the huge quantity of bronze arrowheads  found buried around the for- tress indicate that fierce battles  once took place here. At present, only vestiges of the  citadel remain. In the center of the complex are temples dedicated to An Duong and My Chau. Both these structures are well preserved. However, it seems evident that they were built long after the citadel’s destruction in 208 BC.

Stylized stone lions sitting guard outside distinguish the temple dedicated to King An Duong. A major festival takes place at the temple each year in honor of the legendary king, and a statue of him is carried in a palanquin from the temple to the local dinh or communal house. In efforts to promote both tourism and a revival of  Mural depicting traditional culture, the festivities include elaborate games of  human chess, cockfighting, sing- ing, and dancing. On the final  day, An Duong is carried in state from the dinh back to his temple. The Hanoi Architecture and Planning Department is currently working on restoring the vast area originally cov ered by the citadel.

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