Lonely Planet Writer

Experts call for restoration of 400-year-old symbolic bridge in Vietnam

Experts have recommended that a 400-year-old symbolic bridge, which is a major tourist attraction in Vietnam, should be taken down and renovated.

The iconic bridge at the centre of Hoi An is 400 years old and is in need of urgent deconstruction and restoration
The iconic 400-year-old symbolic bridge at the centre of Hoi An is 400 years old and is in need of urgent deconstruction and restoration Image by David McKelvey / CC BY 2.0

More than 100 specialists from Japan and Vietnam say that the Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An city in the centre of the country, needs to be deconstructed and restored. Tuoi Tre News reports that the calls were made during a recent international conference.

The National Heritage site is suffering increasing degradation with over 1.2 million travellers visiting the iconic 400-year-old symbolic bridge on an annual basis. Cracks have appeared in several of the abutments supporting the main structure. The constant water flow underneath has damaged a number of the piers. The bridge is located in the middle of the city and has become a threat to residents and visitors during flooding.

The bridge attracts about 4,000 visitors per day
The 400-year-old symbolic bridge attracts about 4,000 visitors per day Image by rapidacid / CC BY 2.0

According to the president of the Cultural Heritage Association of Vietnam, Professor Luu Tran Tieu, the 400-year-old symbolic bridge requires prompt restoration. He called for the architecture of the bridge to be properly documented before it is taken down. The president claimed that a comprehensive restoration plan is needed to ensure the bridge’s heritage value is preserved. For this, he said, the most modern technology should be applied.

The bridge is looking very run down after standing as a proud symbol for Vietnamese and Japanese culture
The bridge is looking very run down after standing as a proud symbol for Vietnamese and Japanese culture since the 17th century Image by Vancouver / CC BY 2.0

Tomoda Hiromichi, a university professor from Japan, stressed the importance of the bridge as a symbol of the traditional friendship between Vietnam and Japan. The deputy chief of the Department of Cultural Heritage, Tran Dinh Thanh, said such deconstruction work is quite common. He warned that the project must be carefully handled. The bridge was built in the 17th century by the Japanese community in Hoi An. It was identified as the country’s most cultural and historic relic in 1990.