1/ Vientiane (Viangchan, Lao) is the capital of Laos (People's Democratic Republic of Laos). Its population is estimated at around 716,000 inhabitants (2004). It is located on the left bank of the Mekong River, which marks the border with Thailand, almost opposite the Thai town of Nong Khai. Its ancient name is Sri Sattanak or Sisattanak (Lao: ສີ ສັດ ຕະ ນາກ). Sisattanak is now a district of its suburbs. The city was built in prefecture provincial status when sharing in 1989 and 1994 of the former province of Vientiane into three entities, the new Vientiane Province in the northwest, the vast territory of the city of Vientiane itself and special Area of Xaysomboun north until 2006, when it was dissolved.
Since the early 2000s, the city experienced a sudden expansion, spurred by the holding of the 10th ASEAN Summit in November 2004, one of the 25th Asian Games South East in December 2009 and the celebration of its 450th anniversary in November 2010. This expansion comes at the expense of agricultural land and wetlands
2/ History of the City
The city was officially founded in 1560 when King Setthathirath it moved the capital of the kingdom of Lan Xang. However, archaeological evidence suggests a slightly earlier date: in 1540, during the reign of his father Photisarath, according to the inscriptions of 95 foundation piles discovered in Ban Phia Wat (between Simuong Wat and Mekong) in December 2009 (These pillars and 193 others from the same period discovered in January 2007, will soon be displayed in a new museum)
In 1570 and 1574, Vientiane was attacked by the Burmese conqueror Bayinnaung, but it fails to maintain its domination. When Lan Xang collapsed in 1707, Vientiane became the center of an independent kingdom. Once again sacked by the Burmese in 1764, it was conquered in 1778 by General Phraya Chakri (later Rama I), which was a dependency of Siam. When King Anouvong encouraged rebellion, it was destroyed by the armies of Siam in 1827. It then came under French influence from 1893. It became the capital of the French protectorate of Laos in 1899
3/ Civil monuments + Sites to visit
The oldest secular buildings dating back to the era of French Indochina, the most interesting dating from between the wars (colonial villas, government buildings, Church of the Sacred Heart). After the country's independence and the takeover by the Pathet Lao in 1975, they were generally poorly maintained, while amounted buildings inspired "socialist" (Chamber of Deputies, "tower" on the square Nam Phu). Since the 1990s, many were razed to make way for other buildings, but few have been remarkably restored, especially in the city center.
Most new buildings are "international" style, adapted to local aesthetic canons (roofs, in particular). Their height is severely limited. In 2010, the tallest building is Don Chan Palace, built outside the city center, which has fifteen floors. No skyscrapers are planned.
*/ Patouxai (Patuxay)
Memorial to victims of the war in Laos, Patouxai is the end of Lan Xang Avenue, popularly known as the Champs Elysees of Vientiane.
This monument was built in 1958. It is the subject of a funny story since it was completed in 1962 with cement donated by Americans for the construction of the airport where his nickname "vertical track". It is also a blink of an eye to France because you can't see a similarity with the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Patouxai name was given to him by the government after the revolution of 1975, after a renovation that gave it its current appearance.
The Patouxai can be visited daily from 6:00 to 18:00. It offers the most beautiful view over the city of Vientiane.
*/ Talat Sao
Talat Sao since Lane Xang Avenue (February 2010):
New complex under construction between old buildings, new building right behind the trees.
*/ The Morning Market (as opposed to night market, which is located in another district) is located in front of the station, at the intersection of avenues Lane Xang and Khu Vien (the French route). This is a great bazaar concrete built by Vietnam in the 1970s, with three buildings in U, two-storey and double -framed roof, no air conditioning. There are almost all textiles (traditional or modern), jewelry (silver), craft materials, television, telephone, computer, stationery, etc..
A new wing air-conditioned and includes a parking lot was completed in 2009 by a Singapore company along the avenue Khu Vien. This new international style building, called Talat Sao Mall, is the only modern shopping center in Vientiane; he opened April 6, 2007. A building one level, occupying the center of the U, is being replaced by an emporium of 9 or 10 levels, to include a luxury hotel, a shopping center and another room modern cinema, which hitherto the center of Vientiane was lacking.
Lao International Trade Exhibition and Convention Centre (Lao ITECC)
Located away from the city center (District Muang Saysettha), these buildings in 2003, in anticipation of the 10th ASEAN Summit holding in 2004, allowed the installation of Tang Frères supermarket chain, bowling and two cinemas Cinémax only rooms available in Vientiane.
*/ Civil Museums
Lao National Museum, dedicated to the history of the country, in the city center Kaysone Phomvihane museum devoted to the second President of Laos.
*/ Religious Monuments
Pha That Luang (Great Stupa)
National monument representing the Buddhist faith and sovereignty of Laos, the country's largest.
King Setthathirat had built the Pha That Luang which can be seen today on the transfer of the capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in the sixteenth century. It was restored in 1900 by the French, but the food is very controversial, a new business in 1931 was based on sketches of the explorer Louis Delaporte in 1867. Pha That Luang would contain a relic of Buddha although this not be confirmed.
Simuong Wat is the most revered shrines of Vientiane. It is built on the site of a door of the old city wall and contains a Lat (probably a terminal of Khmer origin). A legend preserves the memory of ritual sacrifice that enabled the founding of the door.
Wat Sisakhet (Setthathirat Avenue) was built in 1818. This pagoda was the only spared by the Siamese during the sack of Vientiane in 1827. It has a small library of Burmese style.
The cloister is home to about 10,000 Buddhas. According to legend, one of them would be magic and could grant wishes.
Wat Phra Keo
Rear façade of Wat Phra Keo
Rebuilt in concrete by France, Wat Phra Keo is now a museum with predominantly Buddhist objects. It is located near Wat Sisakhet on the other side of the avenue Setthathirat.
The That Dam (Black Stupa) is a small monument in the center of Vientiane.
*/ Other monuments
Each neighborhood has its pagoda. Some are not devoid of architectural interest.
Wat Ong Theu. Built in 1566 by Setthathirat destroyed by the Siamese in 1827, rebuilt in 1911.
In Vat Peng
Wat Ong Theu
Wat Phia Wat: it contains the largest Buddha in the city
Statue of Anouvong
Enhancement of the architectural heritage of Vientiane was the subject of several cooperation programs conducted by France or the Asian Development Bank, especially to save many colonial buildings in the center. Can be consulted about the guide architectural buildings and monuments rides available from Vientiane Municipality (authors: Pierre Couté/ Keo Vinnarath, VUISP Project ADB)