Relic evokes civil war "memories'

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The Luy Thay (Master rampart) system must have been an imposing structure 400 years ago.

It is still a must-see destination in the northern central province of Quang Binh, not least for its history, its place in what historians have called a 50-year civil war between the Trinh and Nguyen families. They ruled the north and south of the country respectively between 1558 and 1777.

Built in 1630 by Dao Duy Tu (1572-1634), a famous high-ranking mandarin of the Nguyen lords, the 34-kilometer system had three ramparts: Truong Duc, Tran Ninh (or Dau Mau), and Truong

Sa. It was called Thay rampart because Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, who ordered Tu to build the system, considered Tu as his master.

After four years of construction, the ramparts, made of clay and stones, were six meters high and at some points, the bottom had a width of six meters as well.

Wars and time have taken their toll, and the impressive defense system that once protected the

Nguyen lords' reign from the attacks of the Trinh lords can now only be seen along the Nhat Le River. The 12-kilometer long Tran Ninh rampart is one of the few vestiges of the Luy Thay.

Another section can be found in the center of Dong Hoi Town, marked by Quang Binh Quan - one of the three gates built along the Truong Sa rampart.

Now on Tran Phu Street, the gate was first strengthened with stones in 1825 by King Minh Mang, the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). It was repaired again in 1961 but was almost destroyed by US bombs during the Vietnam War.

In 1994, the Quang Binh Quan section, which is 8.4 meters long and two meters high, was restored and recognized as a national relic.

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