Around the Sword Lake, there are three famous towers. It is the Pen Tower, Turtle Tower, and Hoa Phong Tower. Turtle Tower and Pen Tower are so well known, however, Hoa Phong is a beautiful place that few people know. Quietly next to the lake of Hoan Kiem, Hoa Phong tower has long been mossy color, few people know that it is the remains of the largest pagoda of Hanoi in the 19th century. Hoa Phong Tower of Hanoi – the land of thousand years of civilization is the vestiges of Bao An Pagoda many years ago.
The last ancient tower
With the Ha Thanh people, the image of an ancient, mossy tower on Dinh Tien Hoang Street seems to have become too familiar. The tower is a highlight ancient landmark in the heart of Hanoi. Not only Hanoians but also tourists on Hanoi street food who come to Hoan Kiem Lake think that the tower belongs to the Turtle Tower – Hoan Kiem Lake system. But little know that it is one of the remaining architectural works of the complex of Bao An pagoda which was built hundreds of years ago.
The pagoda was named Bao An, built around 1842. Because the lake had so much a lot of lotus flowers, the people also called the pagoda Lien Tri pagoda (Lotus Pond), and the pagoda had also the name Quan Thuong (the name of the builder of pagoda). The pagoda had 180 chambers, with complex and sophisticated architecture. The pagoda was located on the east bank of the Sword Lake, overlooking the Red River, and backing on the lake. Bao An Temple was located on nearly 100 acres, including 180 rooms with 36 roofs.
In November 1885, the French Governor-General De Lanessan ordered the burning of leafy houses around Hoan Kiem Lake. On the night of 22/1/1886, 300 roofs on some streets such as Cau Go, Hang Be, Hang Mam, Hang Thung, Hang Voi were burned down. And on the night of Jan. 28, 1886, a major fire occurred that destroyed the village of Cu Long. The area of Bao An pagoda was only a desolate land.
In 1888, France destroyed the pagoda to build a post office. Only Hoa Phong tower behind the temple was retained and now, it is the only remnant of Bao An pagoda.
The unique architecture
With nearly 200 years of life, this is the oldest tower in the city. the tower covered with old colors of moss of the time but you still can see the unique architecture attracting many visitors. The tower consists of 3 floors built of baked brick. On the first floor, there are four doors with the arch shape, the top is the name of the door: Bao An – Bao Nghia – Bao Duc – Bao Phuc. On the second floor, the four corners of the tower were square with the statues of the four unicorns facing east. The third floor is carved with the name of Tower, atop is decorated with the calabash.
This is a very rare type of tower in Buddhist architecture. Unlike the architecture of temples, the architecture of the tower is unique but still shows the majesty and sophistication. The tower is not too high, only 3 floors and decoration is concentrated on the first floor. The first floor of the tower was built and higher than the two top floors, especially the 4 pillars certainly show solidity before ups and downs. No need to decorate, not favoring the carved architecture, but the tower that still makes people who take Hanoi street food walking tour captivated and admire.
Quietly located on the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake, far from the bustling capital of the capital, Hoa Phong Tower still attracts all the eyes of tourists on street food tour in Hanoi, not only by the amazing history and architecture but also by the tranquil beauty in the heart of the bustling city.