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Hanoi History, Vietnam

Hanoi history is pretty old, dating back to about 3000 B.C. The discovery of Bronze-made articles as part of archeological excavations in the Red River Delta region corroborates the fact that the region has been inhabited (in phases) since the Bronze Age. (Such Bronze Age settlements, in fact, were spread over a large area including Ban Chiang archeological site in the Udon Thani province of Thailand and Nyaunggan in Burma).

Hanoi History and Initial Chinese Rule

The Chinese first set up a military base (a sort of fort) near Hanoi around the 200 B.C. This, incidentally, also happens to be the site of the first permanent settlement in the Hanoi region. The fortress was named Co Loa. Later on in the 9th century, the entire Hanoi region was turned into a fort and named Dai La.

All this while the Vietnamese people were trying to overthrow the Chinese rule; they got an opportunity with the fall of the Chinese Tang dynasty. In 938 under the leadership of Ngo Quyen, Vietnam established itself as an independent nation.

Hanoi History – 11th Century to 14th Century

When the Ly Dynasty took control over Vietnam (then known as Da Viet or The Great Viet) in the 11th century, Dai La became the capital and was re-christened Thang Long. Thang Long continued to be the first city until 1397, when Thanh Hoa or Tay Do (meaning Western Capital) was chosen in its place. This did not affect the importance of Hanoi in any way and its name was changed to Dong Do (meaning Eastern Capital).

Hanoi History – 15th Century to 18th Century

Hanoi history took a fresh turn in the beginning of the 15th century, when the Chinese Ming Dynasty wrested control of Vietnam. Under them, Dong Do underwent another change of name and this time it was called Dong Quan (meaning Eastern Gateway). Of course, the Chinese occupation did not last long and Vietnam once again gained freedom through the efforts of the founder of the Le Dynasty, Le Loi in 1428. Under Le Dynastic rule, the name of Don Quan was changed to Dong Kinh (meaning Eastern Capital).

Dominance of the Le Dynasty continued for almost three centuries (of course, there had been some change of guards in between). The major dynasty that ascended the Vietnamese throne after Le Dynasty was the Tây Son Dynasty; under them, Dong Kinh was renamed Bac Thanh (standing for Northern Citadel).

Hanoi History – 19th and 20th Centuries

The early years of the 19th century saw the emergence of the Nguyen dynasty as a powerful force on the national level. The first good thing that they did was shifting their capital from Hue to Dong Kinh, renaming it, once again, as Thang Long. The Nguyen Dynasty zeroed in on the name Ha Noi by 1831.

The second-half of the 19th century proved rather eventful; southern Vietnam was captured by the French army in 1867 and the French rule was extended to Ha Noi in 1874.

The WWII days saw Hanoi being occupied by Japanese troops. When Vietnam was liberated by Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi became the administrative capital. The French reclaimed Hanoi (in fact, the whole of Vietnam) a year later in 1946. North Vietnam was surrendered by the French in 1954 and Hanoi was declared the capital.

The Vietnam War years have been very crucial in Hanoi history. When the war ended and North and South Vietnam were reunited in 1976, preference was given to Hanoi (over Ho Chi Minh City) and it became the capital of the entire Vietnam.

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Read our members' travel tips about Hanoi

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