Hoi An ancient town seeks way to restore 400 year old bridge

An international seminar was organized in Hoi An city in the central province of Quang Nam yesterday to seek measures to restore Chua Cau (Pagoda Bridge) as well as preserve and promote the relic’s values.

Chua Cau (Pagoda Bridge) in Hoi An ancient town (Photo: SGGP)

Chua Cau is symbol of Hoi An ancient town, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also known as Nhat Ban (Japan) Bridge with the legend that Japanese built the bridge in the 17th century.

In 1719, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu of the Nguyen Dynasty visited Hoi An and named the bridge Lai Vien Kieu, meaning that the bridge to receive guests from afar.

Besides the unique architecture of a traffic bridge, Chua Cau has a temple worshiping Bac De Tran Vu (northern lord Tran Vu). The temple has been ranked as national cultural and historical relic site.

Mr. Dinh Hai, director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Department in Quang Nam province, said that Chua Cau has run downgraded for the last 400 years. At present, it receives up to 4,000 visitors a day.

Cracks have been visible on the bridge’s abutments and piles in O O stream, which flows swiftly during the flood season annually. Meantime, pillars above have been ruined and decayed.

The work has been restored seven times with the latest fortification and refurbishment in 2009.

Associate Professor Dang Van Bai, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association, said that there were two problems in urgent need of settlement in the upcoming time.

First is to treat urban household wastewater running into O O stream. Second is to survey and re-estimate the force-resistance and durability of the bridge’s foundation and piles with advanced technologies before making any restoration.

Professor Truong Quoc Binh, member of the National Cultural Heritage Council, said the proposal of building a glasshouse to cover and preserve the bridge infeasible and unsuitable with local conditions and Vietnam’s relic preservation practice.

Meanwhile construction of a side bridge to meet travel and tourist demand is inconclusive.

(Photo: SGGP)

The solution chosen by most scientists and experts is to replace ruined wooden parts, reuse good parts and fortify partially damaged ones. Afterwards all items will be soaked with termite insecticide.

All existing parts of the bridge will be used absolutely to preserve its value and the work’s life span will be prolonged despite some inconveniences during the restoration time, for instance a halt of all sightseeing and cultural activities.

This solution has proven effective in restoration of Ngoi Bridge in Luong Pagoda, Nam Dinh province and Thanh Thoan tile-roofed bridge in Thua Thien-Hue province. Japanese experts have also proposed to use this measure.

However, Hoi An city has still yet to choose any of the above suggestions or map out a specific plan to restore the relic.

By staff writers – Translated by Hai Mien

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