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Guide about Ninh Binh

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Location:

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is 13km from Ninh Binh Town, Ninh Binh Province.
Characteristics:
In 968, Dinh Bo Linh ascended to the throne and took the name of King Dinh Tien Hoang and reunified the country under the name of Dai Co Viet and Hoa Lu was its capital for 41 years (968-1009).

The mountains and sea combined to make Hoa Lu’s picturesque landscape. Hoa Lu lays in a flat valley surrounded by the Trang An lime stone mountains, which form a natural wall protecting the old citadel. The city’s northwest is bordered by the Hoang Long River, the tributaries of which run through the capital, cooling the weather within the city and serving as convenient waterways.

The Royal Court was built in an area of 150 hectares in the eastern part of the capital while the western part served as a site to educate and protect children.

As the capital of the country for 41 years, Hoa Lu has many palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions that were built by different dynasties. o­ne of the most popular pieces of architecture is the Bao Thien Tue Palace, which was plated with gold and silver. However many vestiges have been destroyed due to time and weather.

When King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (now Hanoi) in 1010, two temples were built to dedicate to King Dinh Tien Hoang and his successor Le Dai Hanh. These two temples were first built in the 11th century and reconstructed in 1696.

Coming to Hoa Lu visitors can attend traditional cultural festivals here, and the most important and largest of them is the Truong Yen Festival, which is held o­n the 10th day of the third lunar month. The festival is in memory of the Kings of the Dinh and Le dynasties. The festival lasts for three days with many traditional games and martial arts, reflecting local residents’ legends. 

Phat Diem Cathedral

Location: Phat Diem Cathedral is in Luu Phuong Commune, Phat Diem Town, Kim Son District, 130km south of Hanoi, and 28km southeast of Ninh Binh Town.

Characteristics:

Phat Diem Cathedral is the center of Catholicism in north Vietnam and also a tourist site attracting foreign and domestic visitors.

Phat Diem Cathedral was built between 1875 and 1899 four roofs and six sets of iron wooden pillars and consists of a network of ponds, lakes, churches, and artificial caves.
Phuong Dinh Church, part of the Phat Diem complex, is a giant building entirely made of stone. Numerous stone sculptures are o­n the inside and outside walls. A large bell cast in the 1890s weighing nearly 2 tons is found in the bell tower.

On both sides of the church are four smaller churches of different styles. o­n the extreme north corner are three stone caves. The most beautiful of these caves is Lo Duc Grotto. In the area surrounding this massive stone and wood cathedral, the rice paddies are peppered with stone churches. But, unlike these structures, built by Europeans and resembling typical churches of the era, Phat Diem Cathedral was designed by a Vietnamese priest, known as Father Sau. Father Sau rallied the local population to build the cathedral, five side chapels, three artificial grottoes, an artificial lake and a bell tower. Phat Diem Cathedral seems to have changed very little since Graham Greene described its gigantic pillars formed out of single trees and the scarlet lacquer work of the altar. Indeed, with its multi tiered, curling roofs and its 48 lime-wood columns - (the largest of which weigh seven tones), Phat Diem is a far cry from a European cathedral. Stone relief angels overlook carved dragons and the cathedral's two-tone bell is accompanied by a giant brass gong.
Local Catholics view the cathedral's survival as almost miraculous; a bombing in 1972 flattened two of the side chapels and caused the cathedral to lean by some 20 degrees. Despite the o­ngoing war, restoration started immediately and today, the o­nly obvious trace of the bombing is the destruction of some intricate stone carvings. And o­n Christmas Eve, an unforgettable midnight mass, attended by thousands and accompanied by a brass band, is held in the cathedral grounds.
Phat Diem
– amazing Catholic Church
 

You may say a church is not your interest in a Far East country and thus you will be missing one of the most remarkable religious architectures in Vietnam. Phat Diem Church, a group of different churches of stone and wood, is the centre of Catholicism in Northern Vietnam and designed in Vietnamese style mixed harmoniously with the European Catholic traditions. There's a grave on the ground of the church of Mr. Tran Luc, a local Catholic lived in late 19th century who designed the whole church without taking any official course of architecture and paintings. Phat Diem Church is divided into two quarters: the churches and the clergy's house, which gradually completed in 1875 (the first Cavern built to test the subsidence of the area foundation), 1889 (the church of Saint Mary's Heart), 1891 (the Big Cathedral and the Belfry), and the Saints' shrines of Giuse, Phero and Rocco, all finished about 1898. The traditional architecture of Vietnam is recognized obviously in each ornament: the Belfry has curly tiled roof-tops with decoration of Vietnamese temples, the shrine of Jesus' Heart is made of jackwood, the Big Cathedral is designed as a grandiose Communal House with sophisticated multi-level rafters, and all the churches are decorated with lotus, lemon flowers, birds, tropical trees like apricot and bamboo, and matched inscriptions in Chinese which are popular in Vietnamese Lunar New Year. The entire structure is admirable not only for the beauty of each fabric but for their amazingly unique co-ordination and is considered a pride of the contemporary folk works.

 
 
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