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Located in the southern Red River delta, about 90 km from Hanoi, Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex covers an area of 12.252 ha. It encompasses some of the 250-million-year-old Trang An limestone that spreads over 20 communities in Ninh Binh province. During the 10th century, this place was the Đại Cồ Việt Imperial Capital. It was also the base of the Tran Dynasty during the Mongol invasion of the 13th century. Important historically, it is a spectacular spot with beautiful and poetic natural scenery.
Trang An is a mysterious natural area, that has not been affected by disruptive human activities. It is marked by wild jungles, lakes, rivers and streams near quiet villages. The landscape of Trang An, with its karst towers, is one of the world’s most supernatural and it is of stunning beauty. International geologists have confirmed that this is a typical example for moist tropical limestone towers, in the final stages of their development. The landscape contains a range of common limestone, including towers, pits, sinkholes, collapsing structures, underground caves and rivers, and above ground caves.
A pristine tropical forest covers the area. Dew in the mornings and cloudy afternoons make it enchanting year round. Native vegetation grows densely on limestone, clinging to the cliffs and peaks. The beautiful natural environment blends with traditional rural life. Gardens and rice fields are interspersed with small villages connected by trails, river networks, streams and canals. Cliff-side temples and shrines with ancient, tiled and mossy roofs remind us of the untold stories and eternal spiritual beliefs that are in tune with the landscape. These ancient mountains, mysterious caves and sacred sites have inspired people of many generations. This is the land where culture mixes with the magic and mystery of nature. It is also where culture has originated and developed.
In Trang An there has been a striking pattern of interaction between people and the environment. After more than 30,000 years, it has become a priceless historic and cultural site. It is one of the few places in Southeast Asia where original features have not been disturbed by humans, animals or other factors.
Trang An reflects the adaptability of humans who have faced geographic change and some of the most extreme climate changes in world history – especially at the end and just after the last ice age. Archaeologists have found that cultural development and activities of the ancient people had a close relationship with geological evolution. From a series of relics and artifacts they found that this land has always been used as a place of human settlement. The development of cultural identity has evolved over generations, the area’s traditional beauty translating to the religious. It is an important part of spiritual life, which is considered “belief” heritage. Like groundwater flowing in the earth, or blood vessels in the body, the environment here brings a pureness from trees and into lives.
After meeting global standards, including World Heritage Site and World Heritage at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Qatar two years ago, Trang An Scenic Scenic Complex was officially honored as a world cultural and natural heritage site. It is the first mixed heritage site in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Trang An, where culture and nature are inseparable, where culture is magically, mysteriously and magnificently changed by the natural world, has created a portal between past and present, between history and landscape, nature and people. It is a symbol of heritage on the rise in Vietnam.