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Kinh Thien Palace- unique architectural complex

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Kinh Thien Palace is the most important building in Thang Long Royal citadel, which was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2000.

It is at the center of the complex with the Doan Mon and the Flag Tower in front, the North Gate and the Hau Lau at its back and walls to the east and the west. The restoration of the palace is now underway. 

Kinh Thien is the main palace and the most important building in the capital of the Oriental Monarchy. Doctor Tong Trung Tin of the Archeology Institute says the construction of Kinh Thien Palace was not much recorded in history books. According the National History Records of the Le dynasty and the Vietnamese History Book of the Nguyen dynasty, it was built in 1428 during the reign of King Le Thai To and was completed during the reign of King Le Thanh Tong.

Doctor Tong Trung Tin said,“Historical records say that Kinh Thien Palace was built after King Le Thai To wiped out the Ming invaders and began the reconstruction of the capital city. The palace was constructed first because of its importance. It was the place where the King hosted Royal ceremonies and major national issues were decided”.

The palace was almost entirely destroyed and only its grounds remained. The grounds are 57 meters long, 41.5 meters wide and 2.3 meters high. Its steps were built with green stones. Stone dragons in the Palace are its only evident remains. Four stone dragons which divided the staircase leading into Kinh Thien palace into three were carved in 1467. The dragons are typical of sculptures in the Le dynasty. 

Made from green stone, the dragons all have a rising head with round bulging eyes, long branched antlers, manes flowing backward, and a half-open mouth holding a gem. The body of the dragons is serpentine with their tails getting smaller and their backs having cloud-shaped scales. The stone dragons of Kinh Thien palace partly reflect how gigantic the palace was. 

Painter and researcher Nguyen Duc Hoa noted, “The palace was the venue for major royal ceremonies and rituals. That’s why its architecture and decoration were outstanding. The architecture of the palace was destroyed but the stone dragons carved in 1467 under King Le Thanh Tong’s reign show that Vietnamese Kings mobilized skillful artisans to create such outstanding creations”.

According to archaeologists, the palace embraces different cultural layers and historical periods. Its front yard served as a venue for major ceremonies and rituals and was where mandarins waited to meet the King. Doctor Tong Trung Tin says archaeologists unearthed two main yards overlapping in front of the palace which belonged to the post-Le dynasty from the 15th to the 18th century. Tin shared,The front yard during the Le dynasty was tiled with red square bricks and during the Le Trung Hung period it was tiled with grey bricks. The main entrance of the royal palace was found here. The front yard served major royal events and at depth of up to 2 meters down, it had 3 levels”.

Archaeologists have excavated very small parts of the palace, but what has been unearthed reflects the history of this ancient Thang Long citadel. Artifacts found at Kinh Thien palace will help with the restoration work.

 

Source: VOV

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