A Thousand-Year-Old Hanoi

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Not many cities in the world have the benefits that a thousand years of history provide and Hi Noi is one of these lucky few. Take Beijing, the capital of China, as an example. Even though China has almost 5000 years of history, Beijing did not become the official capital until the Yuan Dynasty; which makes it just 800 years old. However, the fact that between 800 and 500 B.C it was the capital of Yan, and was called Yanjing actually makes Beijing over 3000 years old. Of course, China had many capitals over dine: Under Qin, Han, Tang and Song dynasties. The capital cities were Chang’an, Luoyang, Keifeng amongst others, but all were later abandoned. Such is often the fate of capital cities.
Like Beijing, there is evidence our city is also much older than people imagine. Relics found in Co Loa (a commune of the Dong Anh district in Hi Noi), 17km from Ho Guom, suggest that people have lived here for at least 20,000 years, during the period of the Son Vi culture. More recently, the four periods dominated by the Phung Nguyen, Dong Dau, Go Mun and Dong Son cultures have an even greater archaeological presence. In the third century B.C, An Duong Vuong, Thuc Phan chose C6 Loa to be the capital of the country. Since then, Co Loa, now Ha Noi, has been our national political centre.

During the thousand years of invasion and domination from the North, the capital of An Nam, Tong Binh, was located in Luy Lau (now Thuan Thanh, Bac Ninh, 30km from Ha Noi). Afterwards, Gaopian, (a general during the Tang dynasty who ruled Giao Chau) changed the name from Tong Binh to La. In this turbulent period, there were several uprisings, but Cd Loa usually remained the official name of the capital no matter who was In charge. Scholars call this
the “Pre Thang Long” period. In this regard, Ha Noi has been our political capital for almost 2300 years and not just 1000 years.
It was King Ly Thai To who moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La. He saw a cloud in the shape of a soaring dragon which caused him to change the name of the city to Thang Long. Since then the city of Ha Noi has served us continually, despite having different names throughout the 10 centuries: Dong Do, Dong Quan, Dong Kinh, Trung Do and finally to Ha Noi.