Black Virgin Mountain

Black Virgin Mountain
Núi Bà Đen

Vietnamese cart with Black Virgin Mountain in the background
Elevation 996 m (3,268 ft) [1]
Prominence 996 m (3,268 ft) [1]
Translation Nui Ba Den (Vietnamese)
Black Virgin Mountain is located in Vietnam
Black Virgin Mountain
Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam Vietnam
Coordinates 11°22′N 106°10′E / 11.367°N 106.167°E / 11.367; 106.167Coordinates: 11°22′N 106°10′E / 11.367°N 106.167°E / 11.367; 106.167
Type Extinct Volcano
Easiest route Hiking
Cableway going up a mountain
Cableway to pagodas atop Bà Đen mountain, Tây Ninh province, Vietnam
Buddhist temple
Linh Sơn Thiên Thạch pagoda on the Bà Đen mountain, Tây Ninh province, Vietnam.
View from the top of the mountain circa 1967 or 1968

Black Virgin Mountain (Vietnamese: Núi Bà Đen, French: Montagne de la Dame Noire, both meaning "Black Lady Mountain") is a mountain in the Tay Ninh Province of Vietnam. To the Vietnamese the mountain is the center of a myth about Ba Den, a Vietnamese woman. During the Vietnam War the area around the mountain was very active as the Ho Chi Minh Trail ended a few kilometers west across the Cambodian border. As such there were many battles and American and Vietnamese soldiers based in the region remember the prominent land mark.[1] After the war the mountain turned from a battle ground to being famous for the its beautiful temples and theme park. There are trails to hike up the mountain but many people take the Nui Ba Den gondola lift to the top.


Nui Ba Den aerial view, 1971


At 996 metres (3,268 ft), the extinct volcano rises from the flat Mekong Delta jungle and farmland. The mountain is almost a perfect cinder cone with a saddle and a slight bulge on her Northwest side. The mountain is honeycombed with caves and is covered in many large basalt boulders.[2]


Pre-Vietnam War

Variations of the legend of Nui Ba Den exist. Most center around a woman, Ba Den, falling in love with a soldier and then through betrayal or suicide Ba Den dies on the mountain.[3] It has special significance to the Vietnamese Buddhist population and has a famous shrine about two thirds of the way up the mountain.[4] Also, to the Cao Dai sect the mountain has special religious significance and its temple, the Tay Ninh Holy See, is close to the mountain.[5]

During World War II the mountain was occupied by the Japanese and it was occupied by the Viet Minh, the French and the Viet Cong.[6]

Vietnam War

The Mekong Delta is generally a flat region with the exception of the Black Virgin Mountain. The mountain commands everything in its sight and was therefore a strategic location for both sides during the war. In 1964 the mountain top was assaulted by special forces and the peak was held by American forces as a radio relay station.[6][7] Supplied by helicopter for much of the war the Americans controlled the top and the Viet Cong (VC) controlled the bottom and surrounding plain.[7][8] In 1968 the station was once overrun by the VC, who killed all 23 Americans manning the station.[9] In January 1969 the mountain was extensively searched by 1st Brigade elements of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry regulars, 4th Battalion 23rd Infantry and tanks from the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armour. In the tunnels that honeycombed the mountain they found arms caches, and engaged VC units stationed on the mountain.[10] Throughout the war the VC returned to the mountain and its cave bases. Colonel Donald Cook was the first Marine captured in the Vietnam war. For a time he was held near Black Virgin mountain.[11] In 1973 the mountain was closed as an American base.[8] During the closing days of the war when the mountain was abandoned by Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops the local population left the region afraid of the approaching communist soldiers.[5]

Tourist attraction

The mountain is famed for the its beautiful temples and theme park. Visitors may hike up trails but many people take the Nui Ba Den gondola lift to the top.[12]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Heinemann 2006, p. 238
  2. ^ Shacklette, Don (2010). "Nui Ba Den - The Black Virgin Mountain". Coastal Peaks Roasters. Retrieved April 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ Heinemann 2006, pp. 239–240
  4. ^ Mrozek 1999, p. 71
  5. ^ a b McNamara & Hill 2003, p. 77
  6. ^ a b Rottmann, Larry (August 7, 1967). "Vol 2 No. 31 Tropic Lightning News". Tropic Lightning News. Retrieved April 22, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Sinsigalli 2002, p. 37
  8. ^ a b Tinnel 2002
  9. ^ Juge 2004, p. 28
  10. ^ Cecil 2003, p. 125
  11. ^ Price 2007, p. 129
  12. ^ Laningham, Van (2010). "Núi Bà Đen". Retrieved April 22, 2010. 


  • Cecil, Sam K. (2003). The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky (2003 ed.). Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1563114860.  - Total pages: 160
  • Heinemann, Larry (2006). Black Virgin Mountain: A Return to Vietnam (2006 ed.). Vintage Books. ISBN 1400076897.  - Total pages: 243
  • Juge, Randall (2004). To Nam and Back (2004 ed.). Media Creations. ISBN 1595263160.  - Total pages: 108
  • McNamara, Francis Terry; Hill, Adrian (2003). Escape with honor: my last hours in Vietnam (2003 ed.). Brassey's. ISBN 1574886932.  - Total pages: 227
  • Mrozek, Steven J. (1999). 82nd Airborne Division (1999 ed.). Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1563113643.  - Total pages: 199
  • Price, Donald L. (2007). The first Marine captured in Vietnam: a biography of Donald G. Cook (2007 ed.). McFarland. ISBN 078642804X.  - Total pages: 326
  • Sinsigalli, R. J. (2002). Chopper pilot: not all of us were heroes (2002 ed.). Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1563118149.  - Total pages: 184
  • Tinnel, Ronald Herman (2002). "Nui Ba Den". Captain Ronald Herman Tinnel. Retrieved April 15, 2010. 

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