Vietnam's ancient town limits visitors to Japanese bridge to save old icon

September 22, 2016 | 08:23 pm PT
Vietnam's ancient town limits visitors to Japanese bridge to save old icon
The Japanese bridge is among biggest attractions in the popular tourism site Hoi An. Photo by VnExpress
Tourists are asked to wait for their turn so that the historic bridge won't crack under pressure.

The Japanese bridge in Hoi An ancient town is now limited to only 20 visitors at a time, a new rule introduced to protect the 400-year-old iconic attraction from a possible collapse.

The authorities have notified travel agencies of the new policy, put forth around a month after officials agreed with scientists that the bridge needs a grand conservation plan.

The visitor quota would reduce impacts on the bridge before any such project could be started.

More than 100 experts at a conference last month agreed that the best way to restore the bridge is to dismantle the whole structure into parts, fix them and then put them back together.

The bridge, built by Japanese traders in the 17th century, graces Vietnam's VND20,000 bills. It is also called the Pagoda Bridge -- there is a small shrine that was built at one end of the bridge in 1653.

An average of 4,000 people visit the bridge every day. This has made it weaker despite several conservation efforts, including the last one 30 years ago.

The bridge spans some 18 meters across a canal that runs into the Thu Bon River. Many poles and beams supporting the structure have rotten and cracked, in most part due to heavy flooding in recent years.

Several beams have been replaced with iron ones, which have also deteriorated.

Japanese experts at the conference said they would provide technical advice if needed, assuring it can be repaired without affecting its appearance.

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