BAO THIEN TOWER - Hanoi Free Local Tours
May 17, 2017
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 Bao Thien Tower – A historic witness:

 Bao Thien Tower, the tower which was considered as one of 4 greatest treasures of An Nam (the name of Vietnam under Ly dynasty) is still a popular destination for history lover. Not only is it famous for its historical meaning but it is also for its thrilling stories. Although Bao Thien Tower now only exists in the memory of Vietnamese and in history books but it stories still recall people about the old time changes and French invasion…

Bao Thien was located on the land of Great Church (Nha tho Lon) in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. The tower has always play vital roles in people’s heart against French colonists. For it disappearance, it’s the clearest confirmation of attempting to convert Vietnamese to indoctrination of Christian of colonists. Clearly, it was result of history but hardly do people know about the real reason of its collapse. Thus, Bao Thien Tower becomes a reminder of thrill.

  1. Bao Thien Tower – The birth of one of four greatest treasures



  • Along with Quy Dien bell, Pho Minh “vac”( looks like incense-burner) and Quynh Lam pagoda, Bao Thien tower were proud of Vietnamese under Ly Thanh Tong dynasty(1028-1054).  Through Vietnam history, Buddhism was the most flourishing while Ly Kings ruled over the country in 126 years. In that time, many pagodas in Vietnamese were completed.
  • After ascending the throne, Ly King decided to build a pagoda on the Luc Thuy (Hoan Kiem Lake now) called Sung Khanh Bao Thien to worship Buddhists and a respected monk Khong Lo. The King agreed to support 12,000 kilograms copper to make a big bell in the pagoda.
  • In the next year, in 1057, Ly Thanh Tong gave an order to build Dai Thanh Tu Thien Tower on the land of Bao Thien pagoda. According to many historical documents, it had 12 storey but there is no evidence of the exact height of it.  On account of being built in Sung Khanh Bao Thien pagoda, the tower was named after Bao Thien tower.
  1. Structure and meaning of Bao Thien Tower:



  • It was located on a mound in Bao Thien Ward in the East of imperial city Thang Long. Main material of it were brick and stone which written “made in the fourth Long Thuy Thai Binh years, the third Ly king).
  • The reason of even number of storey was the aim of making a treasure of the nation so the tower represented for balance and stability like Ly dynasty.  The third floor had a sentence “the King is longevity”. Other ones were made by copper. On the top of Bao Thien Tower was carved “Dao Ly Thien” (the sky spear).
  • Inside the construction, numerous skillful human stone and concept stone were preserved. At that time, the tower was the most spectacular structure in Thang Long imperial city, indicating for Dai Viet strong country.
  • In 1426, when Minh army (Chinese now) invaded Vietnam, they were surrounded by the nation army. While waiting for support, the Minh army destroyed the tower to take copper making weapons. After that, Le dynasty renovated it many times so it still kept it vital roles for locals.
  1. The collapse of the Bao Thien Tower


  • Before the tower disappeared completely, it was destroyed several times by natural phenomenon.
  • According to the history, on Autumn 1258, the highest floor was destroyed by a strong storm. On February 1322, it was stuck by lighting. On June 1406, the top of tower felt down. However, after three times renovation, Bao Thien tower still existed despite being changed some parts. The highlight of the real collapse of it was when French invaded Vietnam.  Many stories were told but at no time that any documents were given to the public. Thus, many theories have been born. Among them, the theory was written in “Dai Viet Su Ki Toan Thu” of Ngo Si Lien is the most reliable.
  • It is said that in 1882, after French took over 3 Easter provinces from Hue, Henri Riviere led army to occupy Hanoi. When the nation country was beaten, Henri Riviere ordered army to destroy many parts of Thang long imperial city and pagodas, temples as well. The aim of them was to sweep the nation traditional culture and ministered Christian to Vietnam. Since then Bao Thien pagoda disappeared in Hanoi map. Not long after, Great Church was built on the land of Bao Thien pagoda. So, did Bao Thien Tower disappeared by the same reason?  In fact, when Bao Thien pagoda felt down, the Bao Thien Tower didn’t exist anymore.
  • Actually, there are hundred rumors of reason why Bao Thien Tower felt down. Some people distorted that in order to prepare for building the Great Church, the tower had to be removed. However, it is Minh army who destroyed the tower.  While being surrounded by Vietnamese army, Minh army took the top of the tower which resulting of the collapse of tower.
  • On the land of Bao Thien tower, not long after the Great Church was put up. A new time of new religion started like that. Being an independent country now but now Vietnamese people forget what their accents had to suffer and what they had to pay to reclaim freedom: blood, tears and the collapse of numerous wonderful structure as well.

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Thiên Vũ,

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