In the heart of the Old Quarter, the small Bach Ma or White Horse Temple is said to be the oldest temple in the city. It was originally built in the 11th century by King Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty, to honor a white horse which was thought to be an incarnation of a local river god. In 1010, King Ly Thai To issued the “Edict of the Transfer of the Capital”, which declared the transfer of the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La (Hanoi today). He then ordered to construct a mighty citadel but failed many times. One day, while the king was praying, an apparition of a white horse appeared and marked off an area using its hoof prints. The king understood that the horse was indicating a safe area to construct the citadel, and indeed, the fortress erected at the site remained standing. After that the king established Bach Ma temple to honor the White Horse who assisted the fledgling city.
The temple has been damaged by flooding over the past thousand years, much of the present structure dates from the 18th century and a shrine to Confucius was added in 1839.
Passing through the wonderful old wooden doors of the pagoda, visitor will see a statue of the legendary white horse, as well as a beautiful red-lacquered funeral palanquin.
Address: 76 Hang Buom street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Entrance fee: Free