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Decision : 34 COM 8B.22
Cultural Properties - Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi (Vietnam)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8B, WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B1 and WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Recognizing the efforts and progress made by the State Party since the ICOMOS site mission in extending archaeological excavations and guaranteeing integrated and unified management;

3. Inscribes the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi, Vietnam, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii), (iii), and (vi);

4. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long-Hanoi, located in the heart of the capital city of Vietnam, is the most essential, central and best preserved section of the former Thang Long imperial citadel. It is in this central axis of the Forbidden City that power resided for thirteen centuries.  This is where the political leader lived and ruled, whether this was the emperor in the pre-Nguyen dynasties, the Viceroy under the Nguyen dynasty, the high-ranking Indochinese military officers under the French, or Vietnamese leaders during the Vietnam War. The attributes of the nominated property bear a unique witness to the three key features that give it Outstanding Universal Value: longevity, continuity as a seat of power, and the presence of a layered record of vestiges, which includes both underground archaeological remains and above ground architecture, planning and decorative arts. This cultural layering reflects the high level of cultural diversity in this part of the world and the interchange of human values flowing from East Asia, other parts of Southeast Asia and South Asia and fusing in the heart of the Red River delta to form a rich and distinctive culture. Many events of global importance, including the development of independent states and forms of government in the Asian region, the impact of colonialism and struggles for national independence, have had an impact on the site and can be read in the landscape.

Criterion (ii): The nominated property manifests in exemplary detail the interchange of cultural values over thirteen centuries in the development of Asian architecture, construction technology, town planning, landscape design and monumental and plastic arts. Through various exchanges, the site was exposed to major religious, ethical and political ideologies that impacted upon East Asia and Southeast Asia, including Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, colonialism and communism. All of these were received, adapted and refined to suit Vietnam's political and social circumstances and come together to provide a unique testimony of cultural layering that is clearly demonstrated in the inscribed site. The site also witnessed the adaptation of various globally important construction philosophies and styles, including both the geomantic (fengshui) principles that provide the basis of East and Southeast Asian royal citadel construction and the European Vauban style of building military fortifications. The exceptional nature of the Thang Long civilization lies in the way it melded and amalgamated various influences to produce a unique set of cultural layers that are manifested in the nominated property by distinctive monumental arts, architecture and other cultural attributes.

Criterion (iii): The urban pattern and successive layers of development on the nominated site, and the complex melding of religious, philosophical and ideological systems that have shaped this development, provide outstanding testimony to the evolution of a unique and major Asian civilization, the civilization of the Viet population established in the Red River Delta from the 7th century through to recent times. The nominated property enables a sophisticated understanding of the evolution of Vietnamese civilization over thirteen centuries from a localized political centre to a major seat of independent political power and the cradle of a rich cultural tradition. It was a continuous seat of power for the different dynasties that ruled over Vietnam and it is unique in terms of the exceptional duration of its use as a political and cultural centre, which is rarely replicated in other World Heritage sites. It also marks the role of a former colonized state whose victory over colonialism was highly influential to the national liberation movements on a global scale.

Criterion (vi): The Thang Long Citadel site in Hanoi is associated with globally significant processes of modern state formation and the struggle for national independence, the right to which has been universally recognized for many centuries. The events and artistic and other cultural expressions related to these processes are demonstrated in an exemplary way in the Central Core of the Thang Long-Hanoi Citadel. The distinctive cultural and artistic expressions fostered in the Forbidden City contributed to its physical form and decorative arts, many relics of which have been found, particularly in the archaeological sites in the core area.


The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long-Hanoi is the most essential, central and best preserved section of the former Forbidden City as well as Thang Long Imperial Citadel. It captures all the attributes necessary to clearly demonstrate its Outstanding Universal Value as a seat of power of great longevity and cultural complexity. The archaeological record in the nominated property reveals the length of time during which Thang Long-Hanoi has been a power centre, while artifacts and extant buildings reveal the extent of cultural exchange and the influence of different human values on urban design, architecture and artistic expression, and the continuing exercise of power.


The standing monuments and above-ground relics are original structures of the Le dynasty, the Nguyen Dynasty and the French colonial period. The authenticity of the subterranean vestiges is reflected through the presence of foundations of wooden structures and related relics and through the decoration materials for the roofs of palaces with symbols of regal power. The high level of town planning, the substantial and solid nature of those structures together with the precious utensils used by the royal family provide authentic evidence for the presence of palaces within the Forbidden City. The shapes and arrangement of structures and the construction materials employed clearly confirm the role of the site as a political power centre that symbolized national regimes.

Protection and management requirements

Measures to protect and manage the site include the decision to recognize the site as a National Relic of Special Importance (2009), the mobilization of resources from inside and outside the country to carry out research and conservation projects, and the provision of capacity-building courses to the professional staff of the managing agency.

Before the nomination, the site was managed by different agencies and ministries. It is now placed under integrated and unified management of Hanoi People's Committee after the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of National Defense signed an agreement to hand over management authority to Hanoi People's Committee.

The property is also currently protected by a system of top-level legal documents, such as the Law on Cultural Heritage (2001), the Overall Planning for Ba Dinh Political Centre, the Prime Minister's commitment to implement ICOMOS' recommendations and the Master Management Plan specifically prepared for the site.

The Prime Minister issued on 9 December 2009 the Statement 348/TB-VPCP in which he demanded the preservation of all French-built villas and strictly prohibited the construction of high-rise buildings in the central area of Hanoi that may affect the site. The instructions given in the Prime Ministerial Statement will be incorporated In the overall planning for Hanoi currently under way for the period to 2030 and in the onward vision to 2050,

5. Recommends that the State Party should:

a) Strengthen and extend the archaeological study of the property;

b) Give consideration to a wider buffer zone for the property and make sure that the management rules for private construction projects are observed;

c) Implement the overall management plan and make sure that the associated specific programmes are implemented in line with the overall plan;

d) Add a detailed monitoring programme to the management plan, in accordance with the general orientations set out in the nomination dossier;

e) Guarantee and specify the professional qualifications of the personnel involved in the conservation of the property;

f) Pay particular attention to monitoring the tourism growth, which is expected to be both significant and rapid.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Viet Nam
Year: 2010
Decision Code: 34 COM 8B.22