UNESCO team impressed with Ho Dynasty citadel

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Experts from UNESCO on Sunday visited a unique stone citadel in the northern province of Thanh Hoa as local officials finalized an application for its recognition as a World Cultural Heritage.


They said the structure and position of the Ho Dynasty's Tay Do (Western Capital) citadel, where Ho Quy Ly (1336-1407) placed his central government, were highly impressive.


Founded in 1400 after Ho Quy Ly, the highest-ranking general of the Tran Dynasty, dethroned King Tran Thieu De and declared himself the new emperor, the Ho Dynasty proved short-lived when China's Ming Dynasty invaded and took over the country in 1407.


Although Ly has been heavily criticized for overthrowing the Tran Dynasty and letting China dominate the country again after 500 years of independence, his Tay Do citadel is considered a "miracle of labor".



It was built manually in just three months. After more than 600 years, the monument still stands, and the mystery of how it was built still endures.


Built with green block granite, the citadel was trapezoidal while other citadels until then were built of bricks and clay and were hexagon shaped.


The experts also visited the Nam Giao dais, a unique structure used by kings for rituals and prayers built in 1402 under the dynasty and another relic called gieng vua (the king's well), which covers 196 square meters and has a depth of nine meters. The stone embankments of the well prove that people under the dynasty had mastered the skill of cutting and assembling stones.


Katherine Muller Marin, representative of the UN agency in Vietnam, said after the visit that she was "impressed" by the citadel, as the builders have put big stones together in a short time without using any kind of adhesive.


Marin said Ho Quy Ly's ideas of reforms were an important part of the assessment process by UNESCO in determining the worth of a hertiage artifact or site.


The application for Tay Do citadel's recognition will be considered at the 35th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bahrain in June.


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