Vietnam Wednesday began work on a project to conserve the ancient citadel in Hanoi, which later this year celebrates its 1,000th anniversary as the country's seat of power, officials said.
The effort comes ahead of the anniversary, when the citadel ruins are expected to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, said Ngo Thi Thanh Hang, vice chairwoman of the Hanoi People's Committee, the local government.
Japan is providing more than US$1.1 million for the three-year project which aims to support archeological and other studies, identify conservation measures, and develop local expertise, she said in a statement.
"Conservation of the site is worthwhile not only because of its priceless cultural and historical value," but also because it is located in the center of a rapidly-expanding city, the People's Committee and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in a joint statement.
"The efforts to overcome these challenges would make this site an important model for many similar sites across Asia."
Hanoi became the capital of Vietnam in 1010 under the Ly Dynasty, and was then known as Thang Long, or Ascending Dragon, symbolizing the desire for independence after a millennium of Chinese domination.
The remains of the ancient citadel and relics from feudal dynasties were first discovered about eight years ago during excavation work to build a new national assembly in the center of the capital, putting construction on hold.
Archeologists found thousands of artifacts, including terracotta figures of dragons and phoenix heads, ceramics, cannons, swords and coins.
The dig unearthed ancient palace foundations and the remains of the central Forbidden City, with ruins dating back 1,300 years to the Chinese Tang dynasty.
Vietnam designated the site a national architectural and historical relic in 2008 and pledged to preserve the vestiges of the citadel.