Nowadays, there are still hundreds of village gates left in the small lanes of Hanoi, besides high buildings and crowded by traffic. They are different from each other in form and size, but retain a simple beauty that becomes more and more precious in our modern society. There are mossy gates silently standing in the afternoon sunlight, despite the bustling business activities that surround these reminders of the past. There are newly restored gates, boasting a new coat of paint. There are also heavily down-graded gates, with only iron frames left which have witnessed the ravages of time and urbanization.
Each gate is different as each was built in a different time or a different place. The oldest gates in Hà Nội were built under the Thành Thái dynasty, with a small house located above the gate. The house was the work place of the village night watchman, who had the duty to guard the village. Only familiar people could enter the gate. If any strangers tried to enter, the watchman would trike the wooden bell to call the village’s guardians. Each gate has three doors and villagers used the two side doors.
There are many acient village gates in Bưởi precint, Tây Hồ District, in an area imbued with Thăng Long culture. Walking alongside Thụy Khê Street, Ba Đình District, you can also find four ancient gates. Right at the crowded Láng Hạ Street, Ba Đình District, stands the Thành công village gate. All of them evoke stories of yesteryear.