The second festival on Long Bien Bridge, which is famous for its unique architecture and long history, officially opened on Nov. 20, with artistic events depicting the theme “ Dragon Bridge tells story about Thang Long-Hanoi”.
Closed to traffic during the two-day festival, the bridge acts as an outdoor art gallery, exhibiting contemporary arts, photographs, documents and other artefacts depicting national defence over the past 10 centuries.
Throughout the length of 1,682m, the bridge is divided into three sections.
The northern span (Hanoi to Gia Lam) becomes the Bridge of Memories , depicting the ten centuries of the nation through diverse art forms, antiquities and costumes of the people at the time. A collection of kites by northern artisans are showcased here.
The southern span (Gia Lam to Hanoi) is decorated with the flags of 70 countries and territories and animated by street performers. Symbolising peace and friendship, this side is called "The Bridge of Dreams".
The highlight of the festival will be a concert and light show on the bridge on Nov. 21, to be broadcast live on television. Two musical pieces composed by French musicians as gifts for the Long Bien Festival – On the Long Bien Bridge and See Hanoi – will be presented by artists from Vietnam National Academy of Music and the Flonflons troupe from France and Belgium.
During the event, the organising board will also raise funds for flood victims in the central region.
Hanoi's Long Bien Bridge was built in 1903 by French architect Gustave Eiffel, the man who, 14 years earlier, designed the Eiffel tower. In fact the iron latticework used on the bridge reflects the style of the Eiffel tower.
When built, the bridge was called the Doumer Bridge, after Paul Doumer – the Governor General of French Indochina and later the French president. At the time, it was one of the longest bridges in Asia with a length of 1,682m.
During the American War, the bridge was the highest-priority target in northern Vietnam for US bombers. This was because all supplies moving by rail from China and Hai Phong crossed into the city over the bridge.
The first bombing raids in August, 1967 dropped three of the bridge's 19 spans into the river. From that date until January, 1973, the bridge was repeatedly bombed and repaired.
Despite putting the bridge out of commission for long periods of time, the US never succeeded in fully halting the flow of supplies into the city, which continued to move over an improvised network of pontoons, bamboo rafts, and other makeshift devices.
Witnessing the capital city’s ups and downs for more than 100 years, Long Bien Bridge stands out as inseparable symbol of Hanoi.
The first Long Bien Bridge festival was held in 2009.