Hanoi is the capital and the second largest city in the country of Vietnam. It covers an area of one and a quarter square miles and has a population in excess of six million people. The city can trace its history back over a thousand years to when Ly Thai To, the first ruler of the Ly Dynasty, moved the capital of Vietnam to the location of Dai La Citadel. During the fifteenth century, the Ming Dynasty of China invaded Vietnam and renamed it Dong Do as Dong Quan. In 1428, the Vietnamese were able to oust the Chinese under the leadership of Lo Loi. During the nineteenth century, the Nguyen Dynasty was founded and the capital moved down to Hue. In 1873, the French occuppied Hanoi and became the capital of French Indochina in 1887.
During World War II, the Japanese invaded Hanoi and held it for a period of five years. When it was freed in 1945, it became the seat of the Viet Minh government, but was retaken by the French in 1946. Several battles and skirmishes took place between the Viet Minh forces and the French. Eventually, the city was liberated and became the capital of North Vietnam in 1954. After the end of a bitter war between the United States and North Vietnam, it became reunited with South Vietnam in 1976 and became the capital. In 2008, Ha Tay province, Vinh Phuc Me Linh district were absorbed by the city. This tripled the size of the city. Today, Hanoi has experienced a period of rapid industrial production, enjoying a growth of over nineteen percent in the past decade. The city is home to eight industrial parks and sixteen industrial clusters. A very strong economic activity of the city is trade. Hanoi currently has over two thousand businesses that are engaged in foreign trade, and the city has established economic ties with over one hundred and sixty countries.
Hanoi is a city that is home to a good number of tourist attractions and landmarks. A popular attraction in the city is the Temple of Literature. The Temple of Literature is a Confucius temple, and at one time was the first university of Vietnam. It was founded in the eleventh century, though there are only a few parts of the current temple which are that old. Much of what can be seen today dates back to the thirteenth century. Today, the temple is considered to be one of the finest historical sites in the city. It features five courtyards and three pathways which run the length of the complex. The most interesting of the courtyards is the fourth one which contains a gift shop and a museum which displays artifacts that belonged to some of the students who studied here throughout its history. Over the years, the temple has gone through extensive renovations, especially during the 1920s and 1950s.
Another prominent attraction in the city is One Pillar Pagoda. One Pillar Pagoda is a Buddhist temple that was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong during the eleventh century. At the temple a Buddha bathing ceremony was held each year by the emperor and attracted large numbers of monks and worshippers. During the twelfth century, the temple was renovated by Emperor Ly Nhan Tong and a giant bell was cast for it. However, the bell was too large to be installed and was placed in the fields adjacent to the temple. In the fifteenth century, the bell was smelted so that the copper could be used to manufacture weapons to use against invading Chinese forces. During the First Indochina War, French forces destroyed the temple but it was subsequently rebuilt. Today, the temple is a wood structure that is on a single stone pillar that measures four feet in diameter. Its design is meant to resemble a lotus blossom, which is a Buddhist symbol of purity.
The Flag Tower of Hanoi is another prominent attraction in the city. This tower is one of the primary symbols of the city and was constructed in 1812. The tower is made up of three tiers and a pyramid shaped tower. Each of the three tiers have different dimensions. The first tier is one hundred and twenty-seven feet wide and almost ten feet tall. The second tier is seventy-five feet wide and eleven feet tall, and the third tier is thirty-eight feet wide and fifteen feet high. The tower contains thirty-six flower shaped windows and six fan shaped window. The top of the tower is adorned with the National Flag of Vietnam. The tower has three entrances; the eastern door (Nghenh Huc), the western door (Ha Quang) and the southern door (Huong Minh).
Other prominent attractions in the city include Halong Bay, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Lake of the Restored Sword, Hoa Lo Prison, Cultural Friendship Palace, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Dong Xuan Market, Ho Chi Minh’s Residence, West Lake, Tho Ha Village, Museum of the Revolution, Nha Hat Lon, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Presidential Palace, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Ngoc Son Temple, Bao Tang My Thuat, Ca Phe Ve Lo, Lenin Statue, The Army Museum, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Vietnam National Tuong Theater, Perfume Pagoda, Vuon Bach Thao, Quan Thanh Temple, Lang Pagoda and the Thap Rua Tower. The city of Hanoi is also home to some superb restaurants and hotels. Popular restaurants in the city include the Wild Rice Restaurant, Cha Ca La Vong, Puku, The Green Tangerine, Koto Restaurant and the Press Club. Popular hotels include the Fortuna Hotel, Sofitel Plaza Hotel, Boutique Hotel, Hotel Melia Hanoi, Hanoi Luxor, Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel and the Melia Hanoi.