One Pillar Pagoda: An Architectural Unique and Marvel in Hanoi

The One Pillar Pagoda is an iconic Buddhist temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. With its unique architecture of rising out of the water atop a single stone pillar, it is one of the most distinctive pagodas in Asia. This beautiful temple has stood for over a thousand years as a place of worship and tranquil contemplation. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, and significance of the One Pillar Pagoda.

Where is One Pillar Pagoda?

The One Pillar Pagoda is located in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi, near the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The address is Chùa Một Cột, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam.

It sits on a small island in the middle of a lake, surrounded by gardens and trees. This tranquil setting adds to the mystique and beauty of the pagoda. Visitors can easily reach the pagoda by walk from the nearby Ba Dinh Square or take a taxi or local bus.

Opening hours and entrance fee to One Pillar Pagoda

Opening hours
Opening hours

The One Pillar Pagoda is open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM. There is no entrance fee to visit the pagoda and its grounds, making it a very accessible and budget-friendly attraction.

As a functioning Buddhist temple, visitors are expected to dress appropriately and maintain quiet contemplation when inside the prayer hall. It’s free to walk around the exterior and take photos.

Introducing One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda
One Pillar Pagoda

The One Pillar Pagoda was originally built in 1049 CE by Emperor Ly Thai Tong of the Ly Dynasty. It was constructed to commemorate the birth of his son and heir. Its name comes from the fact that the entire pagoda building rises from a single stone pillar emerging from the water.

According to legend, the emperor Ly Thai Tong had a dream vision of the Buddha sitting on a lotus flower. He ordered the construction of a monument to commemorate this vision, resulting in the One Pillar Pagoda’s unique design to resemble a lotus blossom.

Over the centuries, the One Pillar Pagoda has been damaged and rebuilt multiple times. The current structure dates from the 17th century after the original was destroyed in the wars against the Ming Dynasty. Despite the renovations, the fundamental design remains the original vision.

In 1954, the French Union forces destroyed the pagoda before withdrawing from Vietnam after the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. It was rebuilt again by the new government of unified Vietnam. In 1983-84, the most recent restoration fixed damage caused by termites and weathering, which returned the pagoda to its historic design.

Today, the One Pillar Pagoda continues to be an active place of worship for Buddhist monks and pilgrims. It also stands as a symbol of Vietnamese culture, history, and architecture for locals and tourists to appreciate.

One Pillar Pagoda architecture in Hanoi

One Pillar Pagoda architecture
One Pillar Pagoda architecture

The architecture of the One Pillar Pagoda is built with traditional Vietnamese and Buddhist design in mind. It beautifully blends with the natural landscape of the lake and gardens that surround it. Here are some of the notable architectural features:

Lotus Station (Lien Hoa Dai)

This is a platform that leads visitors from the shore over the lake to the pagoda’s entrance. The wooden walkway is designed with railings and roofing decorated with Buddhist motifs.

Three-arched-entrance Gate (Tam Quan Gate)

The distinctive entryway to the One Pillar Pagoda has three separate arched openings as part of its facade. This allows devotees to process inward through the center arch.

The stairs leading to the main hall

Once inside the gate, stone steps rise out of the water to the small sanctuary hall above. There are about 15 steep and narrow steps visitors must use to ascend to the pagoda hall.

The steps are part of the single stone pillar that elevates the structure over the water. This pillar emerges directly from the center of the lake and gives the illusion that the pagoda is floating upon a lotus blossom, just as in the emperor’s vision.

The main one-room hall is a square shape with a pyramidal roof. Inside is a simple altar with a statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, or Quan Am in Vietnamese.

Surrounding the central hall is an open walkway visitors can use to light incense and pray while taking in views of the tranquil scenery. The seamless blending of nature and architecture create a serene atmosphere.

Attractions near One Pillar Pagoda

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The One Pillar Pagoda is surrounded by several other top attractions in Hanoi located within close proximity. Visitors can easily see several landmarks in the same day. Here are some of the top sites near the One Pillar Pagoda:

Ho Chi Minh MausoleumThis imposing monument holds the preserved remains of Vietnam’s most famous leader. Ho Chi Minh led the nation to independence and served as president until his death in 1969. His granite mausoleum is modeled after Lenin’s tomb in Moscow.

Quan Thanh TempleThis Taoist temple located by West Lake honors Tran Vu, one of the Four Immortals in Vietnamese mythology. The colorful temple has beautiful statues and paintings dedicated to various gods and historical figures.

West Lake HanoiThis peaceful lake is a popular leisure destination for locals and tourists. Visitors can rent boats, eat at lakeside cafes, visit pagodas, or just take in views of the scenic water.

Temple of LiteratureBuilt in 1070 CE, the Temple of Literature honored scholars and sages of Confucian tradition. It later became Vietnam’s first university. Visitors today can see ancient pavilions, courtyards, and stone steles listing graduates’ names.

Hanoi Old QuarterThe bustling heart of Hanoi, the Old Quarter has over 1000 years of history and culture on display.”,”completion”:”s can get lost wandering narrow alleyways filled with shops, cafes, street food vendors, and historic homes and temples.

Places to eat near One Pillar Pagoda

Koto Restaurant
Koto Restaurant

After visiting the One Pillar Pagoda, tourists can find many excellent dining options for Vietnamese cuisine nearby. Here are some favorites:

Quan An Ngon – This open-air restaurant serves up street-style cooking in an elegant courtyard setting. They have a huge menu with many regional specialties to sample.

La Place Hanoi – Styled after a French bistro, La Place is located in a charming colonial villa. They excel at Vietnamese dishes with French influence. Great spot for coffee and pastries too.

Koto Restaurant – This non-profit eatery employs and trains disadvantaged Vietnamese youth in hospitality skills. The multi-course set menus let diners try favorites like spring rolls, curry chicken, noodles dishes, and banana flower salad.

Blue Butterfly Cooking Class – In addition to cooking demos and classes, they also serve lunch and dinner in their restaurant with a terrace overlooking the Old Quarter. The menu highlights Vietnamese street cuisine.

Ly Club Restaurant – Just outside the Old Quarter, Ly Club is located in a restored French colonial mansion. They are acclaimed for Vietnamese fine dining with sublime presentation.


The One Pillar Pagoda remains one of Vietnam’s most architecturally unique temples, as well as an important part of Hanoi’s history and heritage. This Buddhist pagoda rising out of the water has enchanted visitors for centuries with its beauty, serenity, and distinctive design. Beyond just the pagoda itself, the surrounding lakeside scenery and proximity to other top attractions make this a destination not to miss when visiting Hanoi.

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