Son Tay Ancient Citadel is located in the middle of Son Tay town, about 40 kilometers away from Hanoi city. The Son Tay citadel is in the area of two villages Thuan Nghe and Mai Trai. The Ancient Citadel is an ancient military architecture, built from laterite in 1822 by King Minh Mang.
The citadel had a style of Vauban architecture with a square shape, 400 meters in length and 5 meters in height. A moat full of water about 5 meters wide and 2,000 meters long connected to Tinh Giang River is around the rampart. The citadel’s wall was 4 meters in width and there were many holes at the top of the wall for the soldiers to hide inside the citadel in order to shoot and attack their enemies using spears and broadswords in the past.
Son Tay Ancient Citadel is totaling around 16 hectares in area. It has four gates facing East, West, South and North, namely the Front (Tien), the Back (Hau), the Right (Huu) and the Left (Ta). It was built from laterite, with walls of 4.5 – 5 meters long. The major architectural axle linked the Front and Back Gate.
The Front Gate overlooks Quang Trung Street meanwhile, the Rear one faces Le Loi Streets and straight to Red River. The Left Gate has a view of Nghe market, and the Right one looks on to Tran Hung Dao Street. All gates in the Citadel are designed in quadrilateral shape with a trapezoidal cross-section.
When you pass the entrance gate and go along the citadel’s walls you will see a very majestic octagon flagpole with 18 meters high which served as an observation post. In 1940, a signal transmitter was installed on top of the tower to announce the time and transmit emergency warnings to the people.
On each side of the citadel is a gate which was guarded by cannons and reached via a stone bridge. In the past there were four brick bridges across the moat but only two bridges exist today.
To the west was Vo Mieu built to worship those who laid down their lives to protect the citadel. At the four corners of the citadel were 4 square wells, 6 meters in depth, that have steps built by laterite leading to the wells’ bottom. Nearby were residential buildings and the law courts of the provinces’ mandarins. In the east, there was a prison, a food store and the residences of the wives of the soldiers in the citadel.
Inside the Citadel, the buildings were constructed according to the symmetrical style on South – North center axis. In the center is Kinh Thien Palace, the getaway of the King and also the place for celebrating rituals. Kinh Thien Palace owns a relatively large space with glazed tile. The Palace and the Vong Cung Gate are the site’s most outstanding architectural features. These two sites were places where the King could rest and conduct prayers for peace and prosperity. Because of its architectural and historical importance, the citadel also has great spiritual significance.
Son Tay Ancient Citadel has become a unique military architectural work and cultural historical relic, attracting many tourists. Visiting the ancient citadel, visitors can also have chance to see rows of Com Nguoi Trees with a new dress of tender, young leaves in spring, Gao Trees with red blossoms in March and wild Bo Ket with yellow blossoms in Autumn. Travelers will surely never forget the image of hundred-year-old trees giving shade all year round and stretching their roots to cover the mossy citadel walls and gates.
The Son Tay Citadel is one of the great symbols of Vietnam’s cultural and historical heritage. Visitor can combine a trip to Duong Lam village and Son Tay ancient citadel in one day.
ENTRANCE TICKET: Free for all visitors