Hanoi’s One Pillar Pagoda

Hanoi / Vietnam

The One Pillar Pagoda is almost a thousand years old. Sort of. In another in a long line of despicably pointless destructive acts committed by colonial military forces, the French destroyed the nearly 1000-year-old pagoda in 1954 on their way out. The Vietnamese government subsequently rebuilt it.

The version that’s there now sits above a large lily pond (or small lake, depending on which way you look at it), tucked just behind the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the Ba Dinh district of Hanoi.

The top is dark, carved wood shaped to resemble a lotus flower. The single pillar base it balances on was once also wood, but in the modern version it’s rather ugly bare concrete. Concrete might be more practical, but I can’t help wondering whether a tin of dark brown paint was really that hard to find–it is, after all, named after the pillar.

Despite it being a replica, the One Pillar Pagoda is today considered one of Vietnam’s most iconic Buddhist temples.