Capital of world cultural heritage

Capital of world cultural heritage

Saint Giong Festival (Photo: VNExpress)

The thousand year old city of Thang Long-Hanoi has now the great and distinctive honor of being recognized by UNESCO as a unique location of three of the world’s heritage sites.

The capital hosted a ceremony on January 22 to receive the UNESCO certificate for recognition of Saint Giong Festival in the Phu Dong and Soc Son Temples of Hanoi, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

This honor added to the already recognized world heritage site of the 15th century 82 stone doctoral steles from the Le-Mac dynasty at Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature) and the site of Thang Long Royal Citadel. Both structures are in Hanoi and while the former has been recognized as World Documentary Heritage the latter gained the honor of being a World Cultural Heritage.

World Documentary Heritage

Hanoi’s doctoral steles in Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature), were honored with the title ‘World Documentary Heritage’ by UNESCO on April 7.

The doctoral steles are considered ‘stone history sets’ of Vietnam’s Confucian education system.
King Le Thanh Tong (1460-1497) ordered the erection of stone steles in 1482 with inscriptions of names and details of the first laureates who undertook the royal examination since its inception in 1442.

Between 1442 and 1779, 124 doctoral examinations were held. Today 82 stone steles exist in Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam. The steles are placed on the back of stone turtle statues, a symbol of immortality. They not only record the names of people who passed doctoral exams during the 300 years of Vietnamese history, but also reflect on life, society, political context and the spirit of past centuries in the country.
They are outstanding in their concept and unique sculpture and calligraphy.

World Cultural Heritage site

Ancient well in the Thang Long Royal Citadel

The ancient Thang Long Royal Citadel was first discovered in late 2002 between remnants of the palaces from the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties, showing the span of existence of the Thang Long capital to be more than 1,000 years.

Researchers found it interesting to see vestiges and cultural layers continuously overlap one another through different phases of historical periods and dynasties. Rarely is there a capital with an age-old cultural history that encompasses such a wide range of historical eras in the world.

The citadel was also a place of various cultures from different countries, religions and doctrines such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Feng shui theory, European fortification (Vauban citadel is one of the standard-models for military buildings in Europe) and many more coming from China, Champa and France.

Located in the centre of Hanoi city, this great cultural site was honored with the title of World Cultural Heritage site last July 31.

World Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Stone doctoral steles at Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature)

The Saint Giong Festival was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on November 16, 2010. The decision was made at the 5th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Saint Giong Festival is a traditional event held annually from the 6th to the 12th day of the fourth
lunar month in several locations within Hanoi, particularly at the Soc Temple in Soc Son District and at Phu Dong village in Gia Lam District.

The 9th day of the fourth lunar month celebrates the main event at Phu Dong where the national hero Emperor Phu Dong was born.
This traditional Vietnamese event has remained well preserved for thousands of years by many generations.
The values of tradition, culture and religion of the festival are still followed and maintained, in spite of the challenges from modern society.

By Thu Ha – Compiled by Kim Khanh

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