Kinh Thien Palace (Vietnamese: Điện Kính Thiên) is the central relic of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi, bearing the mark of peak architecture during the early Le Dynasty. After 600 years of changing, although only the palace foundation and dragon shelf remain here, the artistic value that this palace brings is still intact as in the beginning.

General information about Kinh Thien Palace

Kinh Thien Palace was built in the early Le dynasty, located right in the center of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. This is the place where Emperor Le Thai To was crowned in 1428, and was also the palace where solemn royal ceremonies were held, foreign envoys were received and court meetings were held to discuss important matters.

Kinh Thien Palace

photo collected

From the Revival Le dynasty (1533–1789), Kinh Thien Palace was chose as a place to hold court. The main hall of Kinh Thien palace also always plays an important role. When Emperor Gia Long demolished Thang Long citadel and built a new one in the Vauban style, Kinh Thien Palace of the Le Dynasty remained in its old position and was the center of the palace area of ​​the Nguyen Dynasty, although the scale was smaller than before. In 1841, the Nguyen Dynasty changed the name to Long Thien Palace. In 1886, after capturing Hanoi citadel, the French demolished Kinh Thien palace and built the Artillery Command building. Later known as Dragon House, the workplace of the General Staff – Ministry of National Defense of the Vietnam People’s Army.

Kinh Thien Palace

photo (collected)

At present, this work is preserved in the Thang Long Imperial Citadel relic and only the steps and palace foundation with cultural and historical value remain. In 2020, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Central Citadel of Thang Long being recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage, Kinh Thien Palace is planned to be researched and restored. This is not only the place that symbolizes the highest power of Dai Viet (one of the of Vietnam) from the 15th to 18th centuries, but also carries the core value of the Imperial Citadel heritage of Thang Long – Hanoi.

Kinh Thien Palace

Address: 19C Hoang Dieu, Dien Bien Ward, Ba Dinh.

Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. – 17:00 p.m

An unique Dragon Shelf artifacts

Although the main hall has been destroyed, looking at the remaining traces of the dragon shelf, we can partly portray the magnificence of Kinh Thien Palace at its glory.

The dragon shelf of Kinh Thien Palace was created in 1467, consisting of 9 stone steps (excluding the underground steps), each step is 20 cm high, 40 cm wide, 13 m long from East to West, forming 3 up and down paths. The middle was for the emperor, the two sides were for the courtiers.

Kinh Thien Palace

The pair of dragons in the middle are crafted in a realistic style, made of monolithic stone. The dragon is 5.3m long, bends 7 times and has 5 claws – symbolizing the power of emperors. On both sides are a pair of cloud-shaped dragons, stylized dragons with cloud patterns – symbols of the universe and heaven and earth.

Kinh Thien Palace

The dragon shelf located in behind was created around the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The dragon’s body is 3.4 meters long. Both sides of the railing are decorated with lotus flowers, lovebirds, water waves, cloud patterns, fire swords, and fish turning into dragons, very elaborate and sophisticated.

Kinh Thien Palace

In addition to its artistic and historical values, the dragon steps of Kinh Thien Palace also imbue the ideology of anti-assimilation from the North, the change in the pattern of the steps to the shape of the pair of dragon statues has shown. The continuity of Ly – Tran culture is very clear.


Source: collected by An

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