An overall view of the Hai Van Gate complex at the top of the Hai Van Pass (Photo: VNA)

Da Nang (VNA) - An excavation on the Hai Van Gate relic complex which sits atop its namesake mountainous pass, about 490m above sea level, in central Vietnam has unveiled a clear layout of the old foundations of citadel walls and a section of the north-south route.

Archaeologists from the National Historical Museum and the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre have revealed the information at a press conference on the initial excavation on the site.

The Hai Van Gate, situated on the border of Thua Thien-Hue and Da Nang city, had been in ruins for years due to weather. It was recognised as a national relic in 2017. 

The excavation, which was begun on 900sq.m in May, clearly identified the base level foundations of 1826-built two gates – at north and south – which were either changed of structure or damaged during the war (1946-1975).

Researchers also unearthed the original boundary of the Hai Van Gate relic, which was overlapped by 1960s-built rock walls and tunnels built by the French and the US soldiers during the French and the American wars.  

According to Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, Phan Thanh Hai, it’s an important discovery to mark the original location of the old relic before restoration. Part of the structure of the relic was changed during the war when the French and the US troops built bunkers at the site. Some new brick and rock walls, concrete roofs and steel ladders were also built as an accommodation unit for the barracks. 

The Hai Van Gate is located at the top of the 490m above sea level Hai Van Pass and holds profound historical, architectural and artistic value, connecting Da Nang’s Lien Chieu district with Thua Thien-Hue’s Lang Co township, Phu Loc district.

The Hai Van Pass runs some 21km on the Bach Ma Range, which juts into the East Sea in central Vietnam.

The relic complex was built in 1826 under the rule of the Nguyen dynasty’s King Minh Mang (1791-1841), who ordered the construction of multiple defensive structures on Hai Van Pass to protect the then imperial capital of Vietnam in Hue. The structures included fortifications, store houses and cannon forts.

According to historical records, after building the complex, King Minh Mang inscribed its name in Vietnamese - “Hai Van Quan” (Hai Van Gate) - on one side of the gate facing Hue Imperial Citadel, and the words “Thien ha de nhat hung quan” (the world’s most marvelous wonder) on the other side facing Da Nang.

The Hai Van Pass, 28km away from Da Nang and 80km far from Hue city, is the only road allowing tankers or road adventurers to travel between Da Nang and Hue since the Hai Van tunnel became operational in 2005.

The Hai Van Gate hosted 320,000 tourists in 2017.-VNA