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Ancient citadel in Thanh Hoa province faces erosion

The 600-year-old citadel in the central province of Thanh Hoa is facing serious erosion caused by heavy rains.

While the citadel walls to the east, south and west remain fairly intact, the northern wall, which runs around 880m long with an average height of 5m, has eroded in many places. The erosion risks triggering a more serious collapse of the wall and the serious deformation of the heritage site.

According to experts, the northern wall is constructed of stones placed onto one another without any adhesive materials.

At sites of erosion, big stones have slid dozens of metres from the base of the wall. Along the wall’s base, wild grass and trees are growing, some sprouting from stone cracks and large broken stones.

The most serious erosion was formed in September last year due to a big storm. More than 50 big stones slid from the north wall, a length of 20m. Erosion also happened near the eastern and northern gates of the citadel.

In October 2017, the Ho Citadel Heritage Preservation Centre invited experts from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the UNESCO office in Hanoi and local scientists to discuss solutions.

The provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism finally submitted a proposal to the provincial People’s Committee and concerned agencies to fix the damage and restore the north wall, following the master plan to preserve the citadel approved by the Prime Minister in 2016. However, nothing has been done so far.

Pham Duy Phuong, Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that two solutions have been proposed.

The department has developed feasible solutions according to the Prime Minister’s master plan, in which various constructions will be upgraded. The department is waiting for local authorities’ approval to carry it out.

The department will implement a project to excavate and upgrade the areas most seriously damaged by the heavy storm last September first, and then wait for further guidelines from higher-level agencies.

The Ho Dynasty Citadel in Vinh Loc district was Vietnam’s capital under the Ho Dynasty (1398-1407). The dimensions of the citadel, which was built in 1397, are 870m by 883m.

It is the only citadel in the country built entirely of stone that has remained nearly intact throughout the nation’s history.

According to experts, the structure is an outstanding example of a new style of construction for a Southeast Asian imperial city. It was recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 2011.