BackHeritage » Hanoi » [Photos] Hanoi's Chùa Một Cột Through the Years

[Photos] Hanoi's Chùa Một Cột Through the Years

Chùa Một Cột, or the One-Pillar Pagoda, is a distinguished structure of Hanoi. It is not an accident that Saigoneer’s logo bears the pagoda’s resemblance.

The pagoda was built in 1049, predating all other architectural icons of Hanoi like the Temple of Literature or the Turtle Tower. The pagoda was built after Emperor Lý Thái Tông had a dream that the Guanyin Buddha helped him on a lotus where the Buddha was sitting. The dream inspired the shape of the pagoda, and the structure is also called Liên Hoa Đài, or the Lotus Dais.

The pagoda in 1896. Photo by Firmin André Salles.

In its 1,000 years of existence, Chùa Một Cột has been renovated many times, with perhaps the most extensive one in 1955. One year earlier, somebody blew up the pagoda. Some source said it was one of the last acts of the French before leaving Hanoi, other blamed the Vietnamese. The structure that we have now is the 1955 rebuild by architect Nguyễn Bá Lăng based on the surviving record of the Nguyễn dynasty.   

Artisan Phan Van Khoan draws a picture of the One Pillar Pagoda for embroidery, 1898.

Despite many destructive forces that it has to face thus far — time, weather, explosive — the pagoda is still standing, on its lone pillar, the original from the Lý dynasty. We hope the pagoda will be here for another thousand year, forever being the icon of the capital city.

The pagoda shows signs of deterioration, 1898. Photo by Firmin André Salles.

The pagoda in 1926.

An architectural survey of the pagoda by Trần Quang Trân in 1931.

The pagoda in 1945.

The pagoda in the early 1950s. Photo by Gabriel Monod-Herzen.

The pagoda in the early 1950s. Photo by Gabriel Monod-Herzen.

The pagoda in the early 1950s. Photo by Gabriel Monod-Herzen.

The destruction in 1954.

The rebuild in 1955.

[Photos via Flickr manhhai]

Partner Content