Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Not far from the karsts of Ninh Binh, you can also visit the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. Travelers often combine a boating trip to Trang An with a stop at this ancient capital. This capital dates back to the 10th century, and served as the capital of a kingdom called Dai Co Viet, a forerunner of modern-day Vietnam.
The site’s twin Dinh and Le temples date back to the 17th century. As you walk through the buildings, you’ll be greeted by the scent of wafting incense. Modern-day locals still worship the ancient rulers that these temples are named after, and trust them to watch over their old home.
Today, you can see a statue of King Dinh Tien Hoang, the founder of the city, in the Dinh temple’s innermost sanctum. He was assassinated along with two of his sons, whose statues flank him in the afterlife. King Le was his successor, and his temple also features a statue of his wife, Queen Duon Van Nga. Archeologists have found ancient pottery at this site, evidence that this temple was built on top of a much older building.
Ma Yen Mountain overshadows Hoa Lu, and visitors can reach the top if they can ascend the 200-something steps. They’ll be rewarded with a tremendous view and a look at King Dinh’s tomb. This mountain plays an interesting role in local mythology, and your guide will fill you in on this landscape’s ancient lore.
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