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US-funded conservation of Vietnam ancient citadel completed

By Nguyen Quy   July 1, 2020 | 12:00 am PT
US-funded conservation of Vietnam ancient citadel completed
The gate to the Ho Citadel in Thanh Hoa Province in central Vietnam, 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Le Hoang.
Restoration of part of the Ho Citadel in Thanh Hoa Province with U.S. funding has been completed after nearly two years of work.

Work to conserve the citadel’s south gate and western stone vault, which were seriously damaged over the last six centuries, started in December 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said in a statement.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony on Monday, U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel Kritenbrink, said: "The citadel – its construction, layout, placement in the landscape, and the organization needed to build it – tells us so much about the people that built it and the society around them. It really is a part of the heritage of all of humanity.

"Cultural heritage preservation is only one of many fields of cooperation between our two countries. In areas as diverse as trade, development, education, health care, energy, and security, the U.S. and a strong and independent Vietnam are working together with a shared commitment to peace and prosperity."

In October 2018 the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation approved a $92,500 grant to conserve the south gate, the most important remaining structure in the citadel.

The gate’s western vault was in danger of collapsing because the keystone had cracked and become loose, threatening the safety of visitors and the overall structure of the gate.

The work, which returned the keystone back to its original position, was carried out under the supervision of Vu Nam Son, a Vietnamese-Swiss expert on heritage preservation, and the Conservation Center of Ho Citadel.

Workers work to restore the Ho Citadels south gate in Thanh Hoa Province in north central Vietnam. Photo by Van Hoa Newspaper.

Workers work to restore the Ho Citadel's south gate in Thanh Hoa Province in north central Vietnam. Photo by Van Hoa Newspaper.

Built in 1397 by the Ho Dynasty as the capital of Dai Ngu, the country’s name from 1400 to 1407, the citadel served as a military stronghold and became a symbol of patriotism and national pride.

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

The U.S. Ambassador’s Fund has helped 120 countries preserve their cultural heritage through hundreds of projects.

Vietnam has received $1.1 million for 14 projects since it was established in 2001.

As part of his trip, Kritenbrink also visited Ham Rong Bridge with Vietnamese and American veterans, including some who fought to defend the bridge during the Vietnam War.

The visit came at a time when the two countries are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations. Official ceremonies to mark it are expected to be held in Vietnam and the U.S. on July 11 and 12.

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