Hanoi’s Old Quarter, sometimes called 36 Streets, has a history as old as the city itself. When Ly Thai, the Vietnamese emperor moved the capital of Vietnam to Hanoi in the 11th century, artisans and craftsmen relocated to the area around the royal palace to open businesses. As craftsmen formed guilds devoted to their specialties, the 36 streets became an important trading center along the Red River delta, known for its specialized products and services found on each street. Despite the hardships due to French colonization the 19th and 20th century, commerce continued to thrive in the old quarter, as locals and foreigners forged business partnerships and trade deals. Though the old quarter has evolved over time, its old world charm endures. The streets of the old quarter are still lined with tube houses–long, narrow dwellings that were constructed during a time when taxes were based on how much of a building had access to the street. It is from these homes that artisans, restaurateurs, and merchants continue to run their businesses and go about their lives.
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