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Ancient city to limit tourist access to symbolic bridge

Pagoda Bridge in Hoi An. Photo: VNA

Facing the possible collapse of the 400-year-old Pagoda Bridge, a symbol of Hoi An city, the central province of Quang Nam, and a popular destination among tourists, local authorities have announced they will soon put a limit on the number of visitors touring the site.

There will be a maximum of 20 persons allowed to be on the bridge at a time, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Kieu Cu said on May 14.

He added the authorities have taken into consideration comments and solutions to preserving the historical site from local and foreign experts, but careful and comprehensive assessment of renovation measures should be done first.

The bridge was built by Japanese businessmen in the 17th century. In 1653, a pagoda was built adjacent to the northern corridor of the bridge. Since then it has been called the Japanese bridge.

Listed as a national culture relic in 1990, it measures 20.4m long, 5.7m high and 13m wide, and receives 4,000 visitors each day.

Although it has been restored many times, the bridge is now damaged and at risk of collapsing. Cracks in the foundations and main structure, timber girders, beams and rafters have been found in recent years and the situation continues to degrade.

According to the Hoi An Culture Heritage Preservation and Management Centre, wood pillars have been added to support the bridge’s body. However, a complete renovation focusing on upgrading the bridge and pagoda parts is yet to be implemented as no agreement on a suitable solution has been reached among scientists, experts and authorities.

A symposium among leading experts in the field is expected to be held in Hoi An this year to review all risks facing the bridge and put forth the best renovation option.