Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Hue, the imperial capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945), but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam, and it became the capital of a reunified Vietnam in 1976, after the North’s victory in the Vietnam War.
Hanoi Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem Lake, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specializing in a particular trade, such as silk or jewelry. The street names nowadays still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce.
Hanoi Old Quarter is famous for its small artisans and merchants, including many silk shops. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Dong Xuan Market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
Some other prominent places are: The Temple of Literature, site of the oldest university in Vietnam 1010; One Pillar Pagoda which was built based on the dream of king Ly Thai Tông (1028-1054) in 1049 ; Flag Tower of Hanoi. In 2004, a massive part of the 900-year-old Hanoi Citadel was discovered in central Hanoi, near the site of Ba Dinh Square.