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One Pillar Pagoda – Hanoi

One Pillar Pagoda (Mot Cot Pagoda or Chua Mot Cot) is the truly futuristic architecture, exceeding the world architectural design for nearly a thousand years with the groundbreaking concept of “against gravity”.

One Pillar Pagoda


The One Pillar Pagoda was originally built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong who ruled from 1028 to 1054. According to the annals, the heirless emperor dreamed that he met Quan The Am Bo Tat, the Goddess of Mercy, who handed him a male child. Ly Thai Tong then married a young peasant girl and had a son and heir by her. As a way of expressing his gratitude for this event, he constructed a pagoda here in 1049. One of the last acts of the French before quitting Hanoi in 1954 was to destroy the original One Pillar Pagoda; the structure was rebuilt by the new government.

One Pillar Pagoda

One Pillar Pagoda Architecture

Looking from afar, the pagoda is in the square shape with each side of 3m and 4 curved roofs covered 4 dragon head-shape. The rooftop is decorated with dragons flanking the moon.

One Pillar Pagoda

It was designed to resemble a lotus stretching up out of the square pond. The pond is 20 meters long on each side with a low wall surrounding. In the right season, lotus will blossom, resembling the Buddhist symbol of purity.

The basement is on the top of a big stone pillar including two blocks that are connected together skillfully. This stone pillar is approximately 4 meters high (excluding the underground section) and 1.2 meters in diameter.

Following the Buddhist thoughts, One Pillar Pagoda deeply bears humanist philosophy with the square-shaped outer representing the yin, and the circle-shaped column representing the yang. Yin and Yang are two opposing sides but create the balance of living beings, the law of circulation of the universe.

From the yard to the pagoda floor, we will walk through 13 sidesteps, two sides of the brick-tiled wall with stone stele introducing the history of the pagoda.

Stepping inside the lotus throne, we will see the purple shrine with sacred bird imagery in the roof. In the center, the statue of Guan Yin Buddha (Quan Am) sits on a lacquer dipped gold trim red wooden lotus in the highest position.

The statue of Guan Yin Buddha

What specialty about One Pillar Pagoda is, in the 11th century, its building principle is against the concept of gravity: big top tiny bottom.

The new concept is revolutionary in itself, exceeding the realization of approaching the idea of “anti-gravity” in building the design in the early 20th century.

The pagoda structure shows the harmonious combination of imagination and unique architecture with a system of wood beams that create the solidity and beauty for the pagoda.

Entrance Fee

It is free to visit One Pillar Pagoda.

Opening Hours

  • Every day except Monday and Friday afternoon
  • Morning: 8 a.m to 11:30 a.m and Afternoon: 2 p.m to 4 p.m

Dress Code

You should wear full-length clothes as this is a historical site.

Here are some refer Hanoi attractions:

– Ho Chi Minh Complex

– Temple of Literature

– Hanoi Old Quater

-Water Puppet Shows

-Ethnology Museum

-Vietnam War Museum

St. Joseph’s Cathedral church

Hoan Kiem Lake

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