The north-central province of Thanh Hoa will pump some 22 billion VND (more than 1 million USD) into the restoration of the Ho Dynasty Citadel and an upgrade of tourism infrastructure at the site, a provincial official has said.

Deputy chairman of Thanh Hoa People's Committee Vuong Van Viet said the projects will start soon and be completed by the middle of next year, when the citadel receives an official certificate marking its World Cultural Heritage status.

The 14th-century Ho Dynasty Citadel, located in Vinh Loc district, about 150km south of Hanoi , was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in June this year.

Most of the funding for the projects will come from the State budget while the private sector is also being encouraged to join hands, said Viet.

The biggest project, costing about 10 billion VND (457,000 USD), is to preserve the Nam Giao praying platform in the old citadel, he said.

The site's official web link will also be updated to provide a better understanding about Vietnam 's capital under the Ho Dynasty from 1400 to 1407.

The heritage conservation centre will seek help from scientists to excavate a quarry on An Ton Mountain, where stone is taken to build the citadel, and surrounding relics.

Stretches of national roads 45 and 217 connecting the site to the provincial centre will be repaired and upgraded while more long-distance bus routes will be opened to serve the increasing number of tourists.

More tours to the citadel will be organised soon, said Viet.

The number of tourists to the site has risen by three times since it was recognised by UNESCO, but the figure remains very low, according to the director of the Ho Dynasty Citadel management board, Do Quang Trong.

It now attracts about 4,000 tourists a month, with international guests accounting for roughly only 1 percent.

"Thanh Hoa has plans in place to invest in the Ho Dynasty Citadel to make it an attractive destination for domestic and international tourists," said Viet.

Known as Tay Do (Western Capital) to distinguish it from Dong Do (Eastern Capital or Thang Long - Hanoi ), the citadel, covering an area of about 150ha, was built in 1397.

The construction of the citadel was supervised by a top Tran Dynasty mandarin, Ho Quy Ly, who later took the throne in 1400 and moved the capital from Thang Long to the citadel.

Also called Tay Giai Castle , the citadel has four arched gates facing north, south, east and west. While most of the castle has been ruined, the gates have survived the passage of time.

The castle was built from huge stone blocks, each of which is 2×1×0.7m in size on average, without any glue or adhesive material.

According to the UNESCO, the citadel buildings "represent an outstanding example of a new style of Southeast Asian imperial city".

Apart from the Ho Dynasty Citadel, Vietnam has six other natural and cultural heritages recognised by UNESCO: the imperial capital of Hue, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An Old Quarter, the My Son Sanctuary, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and the Thang Long royal citadel relic site./.