Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam spoilt by natural disasters

After being hitted by impacts of storms and heavy rain, the north wall of the Ho Dynasty Citadel in Vinh Loc District of Thanh Hoa Province has been significantly damaged.
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The only citadel built entirely of stone that has remained nearly intact throughout Vietnam's history

Perhaps the more obscure destination compares to the other World Heritage Sites in Vietnam, the Ho Dynasty citadel dates back to the 14th century. While the Ho Dynastic itself only lasted 7 years, the Citadel with an imposing arched gateway is a testament of Vietnamese’s exceptional ingenuity and superior craftsmanship in a flourishing period, Vietnam Discovery reported.

Built in 1397 under the Ho dynasty as the capital of Dai Ngu, the citadel is unique for its outstanding construction technique which used large blocks of stone, weighing from 10 tonnes to 26 tonnes each, carefully shaped, interlocked, and elevated to about 10 meters high. The citadel served as a military stronghold to protect the country from invasion, thus becoming a symbol of patriotism, and a witness of Vietnamese history during the late 14th and early 15th century, People's Army Newspaper reported.

Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Part of the broken wall of the citadel in Vinh Loc District of Thanh Hoa Province. Photo: VN Express.
Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Photo: VN Express
Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Stones fallen from the wall have spilled onto a public road. Photo: VN Express

Climb up the towering stone steps to the top of the main gate and have a walk along the wall, you’ll fall in love with the scenic view of the serene Vietnamese countryside. While taking in a deep breath of the fresh air, you can have a chat with the welcoming villagers nearby as they work on fields golden rice paddies that seemingly stretch out to infinity.

The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty may not be as glamorous as other World Heritage sites on the list but its modest beauty will certainly take visitors away from the big buzzing cities into a world of peace and tranquility.

Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Photo: VN Express
Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Despite it being a popular World Cultural Heritage site, farmers are still allowed to cultivate land in the citadel’s precint.. Photo: VN Express

Storm and heavy rain significantly spoilt the north wall

According to Vn Express, the north wall of the Ho Dynasty Citadel has been significantly damaged due to impacts from storms and heavy rain.

These days, landslides often occur along the north wall during storms or heavy bouts of rain, says Nguyen Ba Linh, director of Ho Citadel Heritage Conservation Center.

"The reinforcing layer is made up of randomly placed material and soil," Nguyen Van Long, an official at the conversation center, explains.

Despite it being a popular World Cultural Heritage site, farmers are still allowed to cultivate land in the citadel’s precint.

Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
The citadel is unique for its construction, which involved the use of large blocks of stone weighing 10-26 tons, carefully shaped, interlocked and raised by up to 10 meters. Photo: VN Express
Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Thanh Hoa has approved a project worth VND15 billion ($650,000) to urgently repair the wall. Photo: VN Express
Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
The north wall of the citadel had been restored previously, but unevenly placed stones have led to instability and collapse.Photo: VN Express
Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
In 1962, when the citadel was recognized as a national heritage site, gaps among the stones were filled with mortar, which could not stop the degradation. Photo: VN Express

The citadel is unique for its construction, which involved the use of large blocks of stone weighing 10-26 tons, carefully shaped, interlocked and raised by up to 10 meters.

Thanh Hoa has approved a project worth VND15 billion ($650,000) to urgently repair the wall. All funds are drawn from the provincial budget. The project is overseen by Ho Citadel Heritage Conservation Center and is expected to complete next year.

The north wall of the citadel had been restored previously, but unevenly placed stones have led to instability and collapse.

Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Unlike the north wall, the south, west and east walls of the citadel are still in good shape. Photo: VN Express
Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
UNESCO recognized it a World Cultural Heritage on June 27, 2011.Photo: VN Express

In 2018, the AFCP approved a grant of US$92,500 to conserve the stone vault and the southern gate of the citadel. According to Nhandan, a ceremony to announce the completion of the restoration project of the southern gate of the Ho Dynasty Citadel in the north central province of Thanh Hoa, which was funded by the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), took place at the World Cultural Heritage site on June 29, 2020.

Ancient world heritage citadel of Vietnam damaged by natural disasters
Having existed for more than six centuries, Ho Dynasty Citadel has faced severe degradation on its surface and structure. Photo: Nhandan.

Unlike the north wall, the south, west and east walls of the citadel are still in good shape. According to the new restoration plan, new stones must be similar to those first used to construct that wall and feature no gaps. The foot of the wall will be strengthened by reinforced concrete.

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