Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Constructed 300 years ago, Cổ Chế Village’s temple in Phúc Tiến Commune, Phú Xuyên District boasts sculptures vividly reflecting the local folk life in the distinctive style of the Lê Trung Hưng Dynasty. But despite the beautiful interior, the building’s frame is derelict, keeping visitors away.
According to Kiều Đức Mạnh, the village head, the temple would have collapsed if the district people’s committee had not allocated VNĐ400 million (US$17,500) to urgently repair severely damaged parts. However, to ensure safety, local authorities decided to temporarily shut down the temple.
Cổ Chế Village’s ancient temple is not alone as a beautiful and culturally significant but endangered site. The data of Hà Nội Department of Culture and Information shows that among 6,000 historical sites of the city, 2,000 are damaged.
For Đan Thầm Village’s Temple in Mỹ Hưng Commune in Thanh Oai District, the day of collapse seems imminent. Wrecked walls and crumbly wooden columns foreshadow an almighty crash in the near future.
“If there is no emergency intervention, the historical site will soon fall to rubble,” said Trịnh Minh Thuỷ, deputy commune head.
Even for structures constructed from blocks of stone, such as Quận Vân Stone mausoleum in Thường Tín District, time wreaks destruction.
Several ritual statues have sunk by half, down to the ground. The others, despite being sculpted from hard stone blocks, are worn and broken.
“However, because of the financial shortage, we cannot do anything to preserve this precious construction,” Lê Thị Liễu, deputy head of Thường Tín District People’s Committee told Hà Nội Mới (New Hà Nội) Newspaper in disappointment.
The lack of funds is the biggest barrier localities face in the process of preserving and restoring historic buildings.
Hà Nội raises hundreds of billion đồng to repair historical relics annually, not to mention investments from the private sector. However, money is not the only thing needed to save antique buildings from falling to ruin.
Early this year, Hà Nội People’s Committee asked the city Department of Culture and Information and related agencies to raise people’s awareness in preserving historical sites and accelerating research, aiming to restore buildings based on their original architecture.
Transparency is the key element to heritage preservation, said Trương Minh Tiến, the department’s deputy director. Meanwhile, civil monitoring is important in addition to public management to ensure that restorations will be effective.
Nguyễn Trường Giang, head of Culture and Sports of Thạch Thất District, on the other hand, stressed appropriate policy as an important solution.
“The city authorities need to create favourable conditions for localities as they seek to mobilise capital. Otherwise, it is almost impossible for us to conduct heritage preservation activities,” he said.
Nguyễn Viết Chức, head of Thăng Long Culture Research Institute, recommended Hà Nội authorities tighten management and impose punishments on individuals and organisations that bring about negative impacts on historical relics.
In the long-term plan to preserve Hà Nội culture by 2030, the city expects to restore and repair 70 per cent of national historical relics. – VNS