Original vestige unearthed at the Hai Van Gate

VietNamNet Bridge – An excavation on the Hai Van Gate complex on the 490m above sea level Hai Van Pass has unveiled a clear layout of the old foundations of citadel walls and a section of the north-south route dating back to 1470.

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An overall view of the Hai Van Gate complex at the top of the Hai Van Pass. An excavation on the site unveiled the locations the 1470-built relic on the border of Thua Thien-Hue Province and Da Nang City. 


Archaeologists from the National Historical Museum and the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre 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 after a 20-year dispute on the boundary of Thua Thien-Hue and Da Nang.  

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.   

“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,” director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, Phan Thanh Hai, said at the briefing.

Hai said some new brick and rock walls, concrete roofs and steel ladders were also built as an accommodation unit for the barracks.  

Archaeologist Nguyen Ngoc Chat said locations of damaged items were unveiled after a three-month excavation.

“We have identified that a citadel was built to connect the north gate (on the Thua Thien Hue Province area) and the south gate (on Da Nang border). The citadel was completely damaged, but only the rock foundation of the citadel was unearthed after the excavation,” Chat said.

“An old entrance (on Da Nang side) was also exposed from the digging, while locations of a warehouse and house for mandarin of the gate were also found. We also marked the original positions of five cannons on the citadel for defence,” he said.

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South Gate of the Hai Van Gate relic on the border of Da Nang City. — VNS Photos Cong Thanh



Chat said fragments of ceramic tools, stainless steel and glass objects were found at the site.

He said two stone steles were unearthed at the site, but only one was carved with name in the Han (Chinese) scripts.

Chat said the restoration of the relic will be completed in 2020.

Vice chairman of Thua Thien-Hue Nguyen Dung said he highly appreciated the unique architecture and design of the old relic including the old citadel, the two gates and centuries built north-south route from the Nguyen Dynasty.

He said the site will be a favourite destination for both visitors from Da Nang and Hue cites in exploring history and long existence of the unique architecture.

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. 

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North Gate of the Hai Van Gate relic on the Thua Thien-Hue Province side. Archaeologists plan to restore the relic as it was built from previous centuries. 


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A brick built foundation was unearthed on the Hai Van Gate relic on the top the 490m above sea level Hai Van Passs.



The Hai Van Gate, situated at the top of Hai Van Pass, is a complex of brick-built gates from the 19th century, and octagonal bunkers from the French colonial period.

According to researchers, 95 per cent of the site was in Thua Thien-Hue, while only a part of the old wall and a victory monument of the Don Nhat (First Garrison) during the French War were fully within the Da Nang border.

Since the Nguyen Dynasty, the sight has seen two resistance wars against the French and the Americans. It was also once the border between Dai Viet (the Great Viet, now Vietnam) and the Champa Kingdom, which ruled the region between the fourth and 13th centuries.

Historically, Hai Van Pass belonged to the Hindu Champa Kingdom under Jaya Simhavarman III (1288-1307), but the two provinces of O (now Quang Tri) and Ly ( now Thua Thien-Hue) were given in exchange for the marriage of Huyen Tran Princess, daughter of King Tran Anh Tong. Hai Van Pass then became the border between Dai Viet and the Champa Kingdom.

The two brick gates were reinforced with concrete and steel-bar roofs in the fight against Vietnamese guerillas (French colonial period) in 1826, and then during the American war.

In 1470, King Tran Nhan Tong named the Hai Van Gate ‘the most marvellous wonder’. The inscriptions on the gate arches have survived. 



Source: VNS

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