Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by Jim Ferri
In Hanoi, little Bach Ma Temple is the oldest building in the Old Quarter. It’s a small temple, but nevertheless elegant, and revered by the Vietnamese. Visit it and you’ll find it fascinating.
It was built around AD 968 during the founding of Thang Long, the capital city, before the city became known as Hanoi in the 19th century.
According to a Vietnamese legend, when the walls of the city were first built they continued to collapse until a magical white horse appeared and showed where the walls should be placed. The king then built the “White Horse Temple” (Bach Ma) to demonstrate his gratitude. The White Horse remains the guardian spirit of the city.
The Temple has been recognized as an outstanding construction and continually restored in the reign of many dynasties. Its layout was adapted from the shape of the word “Three” in Chinese. From the outside, it looks like a 8-roof communal village house embellished with ancient patterns. They bear a significant resemblance to Hoi An fine arts. Most pillars and wooden beams are well carved, antique pictures are well refined by skillful engravers. They all render an aura of grandeur to the Temple.
Usually, people pay a visit to the Temple so that they can admire evidence of ancient engraving artistry and the serene ambience it creates. However, if you have a chance to visit the temple during February 12–13, the date of the Lunar Calendar. Then you’ll witness Bach Ma Temple’s annual traditional celebration.
Bach Ma temple is situated in the center of Hanoi Old Quarter, making it a little difficult to find the way due to the city’s narrow and crowded streets