Dr. Phan Thanh Hai. Photo: Thu Thuy
Hai Van Gate has an all-important location but has been damaged by time and wars. What is more, it has been left neglected for many years. The recent recognition of the gate is just the start of a series of activities aiming at protecting the monument to comply with the regulations by the government.
In order to restore the monument, archeological studies must be conducted to find specific historical data and to make an overall plan for the restoration. The aim of the archeological work is to expose the whole step system , the gate and the national North-South path on the Thua Thien-Hue side in particular and the whole foundation of the protecting walls in general. At the same time, historical artifacts ought to be looked for to assist the restoration in a scientific way.
What is the status quo of the relic, sir?
Hai Van Gate is a stop on top of Hai Van Pass on the North-South single path. The current path is actually not the original one. When the French rebuilt the way, they chose another one and abandoned the old path. Over time, it was buried under the ground.
Initially, it was a fortress with two openings. The one facing Danang is called Hai Van Gate and the other facing Hue is called Thien ha De nhat Hung quan. While part of the path and steps towards Da Nang stay intact, the opposite side towards Hue has been buried under the ground, including the North-South path. The surrounding protecting wall is also damaged gravely due to landslides.
What has been found?
This archaeological excavation was carried out in an area of 600m2, revealing the foundation of the step system and part of the buried path towards Thua Thien-Hue. At present, archaeologists are continuing to look for more information about the path and the surrounding walls. We are trying to find missing information.
The two cities of Hue and Da Nang have reached an agreement that after the archaeological phase, the Institute of Science, Technology and Construction wil be invited to work as the consultant. We will provide them with all available information; and together, we will work on an overall restoration project of the gate. That is the first step. Next will come the restoration plan. In order for the project to start in 2019, all relevant procedures should be completed and approved by October 31st.
And then, Sir?
The second step is regarded as an ambition. That is the overall planning of Hai Van Pass in connection with Hai Van Gate, including building a service center, a parking lot, shops, restrooms, etc.
The question is not only restoring the monument but also turning it into a tourist attraction for both Thua Thien-Hue and Danang. In this way, the monument will be well protected and its value will be promoted effectively. We suggest that this task should be socialized because this monument has so far received lots of tourists' attention.
Thien ha De nhat Hung quan (Hai Van Gate). Photo: Hue Monuments Conservation Center
Are there any obstacles, Sir?
There are no unsurmountable difficulties. The only difference between the present gate and one in the past is the path leading to the gate. The more recent path runs in another direction to avoid Hai Van Gate. However it would become an advantage when we restore this monument.
The path from Thien Ha De nhat Hung quan is rather rough but it helps make younger generations understand our ancestors’ hard lives in the old days. Restoring part of the surrounding walls is not very difficult either because it is mainly built by arranging stones.
However, there remains an issue that needs discussing and agreeing upon. There are now on location some bunkers built by the French in the colonial times. To some extent, they are also part of the history. The question is how to handle them. Should we disassemble or keep them? This is a very interesting issue that needs debating. We will have to make a decision.
Thank you for the talk, sir.
Hai Van Gate was recognized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as a National Monument according to Decision No. 1531/QD-BVHTTDL dated 14/4/2017. The monument is located on top of Hai Van Pass, belonging to Lang Co Town, Phu Loc District, Thua Thien-Hue Province and Hoa Hiep Bac Ward, Lien Chieu District, Danang City. During the Nguyen Dynasty's times, it served as an important gateway to Hue Imperial Capital from the South.
By DONG VAN