The citadel of the Ho Dynasty (also called Tay Do Citadel or Tay Giai Citadel), is situated in Vinh Tien and Vinh Long Communes, Vinh Loc District, west of Thanh Hoa City (Thanh Hoa Province). Experiencing the harsh weather and the historical vicissitudes, this stone citadel of over 600 years old has become a special cultural, historic and architectural relic of Vietnam .
The citadel of the Ho Dynasty (also called Tay Do Citadel or Tay Giai Citadel), is situated in Vinh Tien and Vinh Long Communes, Vinh Loc District, west of Thanh Hoa City (Thanh Hoa Province). Experiencing the harsh weather and the historical vicissitudes, this stone citadel of over 600 years old has become a special cultural, historic and architectural relic of Vietnam.
The citadel was built in 1397 by Ho Quy Ly, the then Prime Minister. Legend has it that the construction was completed after only three months. The citadel was a unique architectural project, with all of its walls and four main gates made of green square stone plates which were beautifully carved and overlapped tightly one after another. On the average, each stone plate is 1.5m long and 1m thick and some weight up to 15-20 tonnes. The shape of the citadel is fairly square, with its north and south sides being 870.5m long and its east-west sides being 883.5m long. Its four gates in the south, north, west and east were called the front, back, left and right gates and are domed. The stone plates on the dome were carved as sections of a grapefruit, tightly overlapping. The front gate in the south is the main gate and has three doors. The middle door is 5.82m wide and 5.75m high. The side doors are 5.45m wide and 5.35m high. Each of the remaining gates has only one door. The wall of the citadel is 5-6m high on average, with the highest peak being the front gate of 10m high. Scientists estimated that the entire walls were made of 25,000m3 of stones. Inside the stone walls is another wall made of approximately 80,000m3 of earth.
After the citadel was built, Ho Quy Ly forced King Tran Nhan Tong to move the capital to Thanh Hoa. In February of the Year of the Dragon (1400), after coming to the crown replacing Tran Thuan Tong, Ho Quy Ly renamed the country Dai Ngu (1400-1407).
According to historical books, in the citadel there were Hoang Nguyen, Dien Tho and Dong Cung Palaces, Tho Ky and Duc Tuong Mountains, Duc Thuy Lake ,… which were very magnificent and superb. Due to harsh weather and wars, many architectural works in the citadel were destroyed and only a part of the citadel’s walls and four gates remained.
According to architectural researchers the citadel of the Ho Dynasty was an architectural masterpiece of the 14th century with impressive architecture of the walls and other parts. The citadel is an outstanding symbol of a combination between the Vietnamese architecture and the unique building techniques of Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia. In terms of architectural history, the Ho Dynasty’s citadel played an important place in the planning and building of urban areas in Vietnam. It showed the uniqueness in the construction of a citadel in general and a stone citadel in particular, and a breakthrough in Vietnam’s tradition of building citadel. It was the biggest stone citadel in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
The Ho Dynasty’s citadel is a cultural-historical relic which has been classified as a national relic by the Vietnamese State . It was the sole citadel built from stone and was connected with a dynasty which existed for a short period of time (1400-1407) but had remarkable innovations, such as reforming examination, building more schools, heightening the Nom scripts and issuing banknotes.
Today the Ho Dynasty’s citadel has been gradually restored and embellished with the aim of preserving a unique architectural work which has existed for over 600 years.