Secret Vietnam War cellar in Hanoi opened for public viewing

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 Visitors in the commanders' room, the largest one among the three rooms in the cellar

The Thang Long Ancient Citadel Preservation Centre on December 20 opened for public viewing the cellar in Hanoi where Vietnamese commanders stayed and worked during the Vietnam War.

News website VnExpress reported Thursday that the cellar, located under the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, was opened on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of a massive aerial bombardment of Hanoi by US forces during the height of the Vietnam War in late 1972.

The Thang Long Imperial Citadel stands next to the National Assembly building in Hanoi and is believed to be part of a citadel system built in 11th century.

Nguyen Van Minh, former deputy head of the Warfare Department, said opening up the cellar to the public will help Vietnamese youth as well as foreign visitors learn more about some of the most important times in the nation's history.  

The 64-square-meter cellar, built in 1964, was designed to have three layers of concrete with sand in between in order to withstand bomb, radiation, and chemical attacks.

It has three rooms. The largest, which has an area of 34 square meters, is the place where all commanders decided fighting strategies and reported information to the government at that time.

The other two rooms were used to store equipment. A lot of the furniture including phones, maps and desks are still preserved in the cellar.

Katherine Muller Marin, head of UNESCO Office in Hanoi, said at the opening that she felt like she was living at a time of war.

The preservation of the cellar full meets UNESCO's guidelines of heritage conservation, the VnExpress report said.

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