Things to do
Top 4 things to do in Quang Tri province
1. QUANG TRI CITADEL – EMBRACES A GLORIOUS HISTORY
Quang Tri citadel on the bank of river Thach Han was the site of fierce battles during the US war in Viet Nam. The site became the tomb of tens of thousands of Vietnamese soldiers who sacrificed their lives for national liberation.
Quang Tri citadel was built in 1809 by order of King Gia Long. Initially, it was made of clay. In 1837, during the reign of King Minh Mang, it was rebuilt in brick.
Built in a square shape with a circumference of 2 km, the citadel covers 20 ha and is surrounded by a moat. In the feudal era, Quang Tri citadel was a military fortress and also an administrative, political and economic center.
After the signing of the Geneva Agreement in 1954, the 17th parallel became a military line separating North and South Viet Nam. Quang Tri town ship was then a political, military and economic hub of Quang Tri province.
The war changed the course of history and the citadel became more important during the Viet Nam Republic. Quang Tri was the place where several important military events took place between 1954 and 1971. But the climax, without a doubt, was the 81-day fight in the summer of 1972, said the tour guide.
In the 81-day fight, the US army and the southern Vietnamese regime mobilized a large number of troops and ammunition to capture the citadel. Heavy artillery fire during these 81 days virtually razed the citadel. Only a few parts of the citadel still stand.
At the request of provincial authorities, partial restoration was undertaken between 1993 and 1995. The moat, some of the bridges and the main doors were restored. A monument in memory of the 1972 battle was built in the middle of the citadel. 81 bronze reliefs representing the 81 days of the battle were installed.
Quang Tri citadel attracts not only war veterans and fallen soldiers’ families but also tourists of all ages.
2. OUR LADY OF LA VANG
Our Lady of La Vang (Vietnamese: Đức Mẹ La Vang) refers to a reported Marian apparition at a time when Catholics were persecuted and killed in Vietnam. The Shrine of our Lady of La Vang (Basilica of Our Lady of La Vang) is situated in what is today Hai Phu commune in Hải Lăng District of Quảng Trị Province in Central Vietnam.
Quang Tri citadel is a special national relic, a venue, where the younger generation and tourists learn something about Viet Nam’s patriotic tradition and glorious history
3. HIEN LUONG BRIDGE – A SPAN OF REUNIFICATION
During the war, Hien Luong Bridge on Ben Hai River divided north and South Vietnam. Many Vietnamese people laid down their lives in there to fight for national independence and freedom. Historical relic sites located on both banks of the river have been recognized as special national historical relics. These days, people on both sides of Ben Hai River are jubilantly celebrating National Reunification Day.
Hien Luong Bridge is 178 m long but it took 21 years for Vietnamese people from the north and the south to be united. The bridge is witness to the Vietnamese people’s fierce but glorious struggle and a reflection of their desire for and belief in victory. During the war, Quang Tri was the most devastated by thousands of tons of bombs and shells. In peace time, the whole country joins in the effort to assist the province’s development.
The vestiges of war remain on both banks of Ben Hai River 40 years after the war. There is Hien Luong and Cua Tung police stations on the northern bank and Xuan Hoa and Cat Son police stations on the other side of the river. Holding the reunification festival on Ben Hai’s banks further emphasized the importance of the victory in the war against the US and celebrates the country’s eventual reconciliation and today’s national unity.
4. VINH MOC TUNNELS
Vinh Moc Tunnel – The Largest Historical Relic in Quang Tri
Vinh Moc Tunnel (Địa đạo Vĩnh Mốc) - an underground miniaturized village - is the largest historical tunnel among over 60 tunnels in a tunnel complex of Vietnam located in Vinh Linh district, Quang Tri province. It is a truly interesting place for tourists in Vietnam travel who are fond of discovering Vietnam’s history.
Deep beneath the dark earth, hidden from screeching bombers and harboring desperate soldiers, the people of Vinh Linh, Quang Tri lived for many years in the now famous Vinh Moc Tunnel. They survived, and even prospered in their makeshift underground community. During that time, 17 children were born in the tunnels, each of whose lives is a testament to just how perfect the complex network of caves and warrens were at protecting those forces within. As time goes by, it has become both a historical evidence and a tourist destination for discovering a heroic period of Vietnam’s history.
Vinh Moc Tunnel – The Largest Historical Relic in Quang Tri province. Vinh Moc tunnel is located in Vinh Moc, Vinh Thach Commune, Vinh Linh District, Quang Tri Province. The complex in Vinh Linh has as many as more than 60 tunnels such as Tan My, Mu Giai, Tan Ly tunnels, among which Vinh Moc is the most solid and firm village tunnel, with 3 floors and round staircase, still remaining as in its past days.
The tunnel soil is a dense clay, allowing easy hands digging of the tunnels. Air caused the clay to harden, making the walls extremely strong. The tunnel network's total length is nearly 2 km, structured into three floors with the first 13 m beneath the ground, the second 15 m, and the third, 23 m. The village tunnel was built in over two years and required approximately 6,000 cubic metres of earth to be dug out.
The main inner axis is 2,034m long, 1-1.2m wide, and 1.5-4.1m high. The two side cliffs are moulded into small temporary houses every 3m. The tunnel center has a 150 seated hall, clinics and maternity place. It is linked to the sea by seven exits, which also function as ventilators and to a nearby hill by another six.
Those known of Vietnam’s heroic historical war must have some understanding of the tunnel network in Quang Tri citadel – a witness of the severe war. The Vinh Moc spectacular tunnel network within the zone stands as a testament to the endurance, wisdom and bravery of the local people in their fight for independence.
The Vinh Moc tunnel complex was built to shelter the people of Son Trung and Son Ha communes in Vinh Linh county of Quang Tri Province. It was constructed in several stages, beginning in 1966 and coming into use until 1971. The complex grew to consist of wells, kitchens, rooms for each family and clinics. Around 60 families lived in the tunnels; as many as 17 children were born inside the tunnels as well. Finally, the tunnels were a success and no villagers lost their lives thanks to them. The only direct hit was from a bomb that failed to explode, the resulting hole was utilized as a ventilation shaft.
Historical Name. "Their real name is Son Vinh Tunnels," one designer witnessing this said, "From the very beginning we called it Son Vinh tunnels. Son means mountain and Vinh not only refers to Vinh Moc, but to the Vinh Linh people. The people of Son Trung and Son Ha communes and the men of border-post also helped build the tunnels."
Ten years after the war had ended, I heard that the Vinh Moc Tunnels were opened to tourists in Quang Tri Province. Arriving at the tunnels tourists in Vietnam travel always put their hands on the wooden planks to feel how cold they were. These days, the government is striving to preserve their existence.
Historical story. In the mid-1960s, the area was a burnt and blackened wasteland, constantly under attack from the US. During a meeting of the local Vietnamese soldiers to discuss how to stop all the constant casualties and better protect the community, some put forth the idea of moving the people underground. For them, it would be meaningless if the local people could not be protected since without the people their post would cease to exist.
After the meeting, an initial plan to construct a U-shaped tunnel on the seaside cliff was put forward. The US had not yet begun using the infamous B-52 bombers at Vinh Linh, but it was only a matter of time. As the plan manifested, the soldiers followed up with two A-shaped tunnels, connecting them with the U-turn and forming a connected chain of tunnels and bomb shelters. This initial network also acted as a base to retaliate against the enemy if they landed at Vinh Linh and conveniently as an entry point for supplies to the Con Co Island nearby.
Yet, of course it wasn’t that simple. The tunnels needed 5m-deep ventilation openings, and as the community within expanded, they had to develop wells, kitchens, bedrooms and health-stations. The tunnels also had to store provisions for the army and locals, and had to be able to house as well as transport hundreds of tonnes of rice. The tunnels are not just famous for the uniqueness of the constructors’ endeavor, but for the meticulous ingenuity of their design. All the kitchens required chimneys, which had to be able to disperse their smoke without attracting enemy planes, no easy feat for a designer who was trying to fight a war.
When the underground channels were designed, the designers had the foresight to consider their protection as well as their construction. They must be well against damage long, tropical rains, and monsoon. Architects would like to visit this historical and solid shelter to figure out how their elders could succeed in constructing such a complex, huge, but firm and sufficient place of living. The tunnel is accurately a miniaturized image of a deep underground village with all necessary services (houses for all families, birthplace, health-stations, etc.), but can stand still firmly until now. The answer may be revealed in a heroic mentality and great endeavor of the people in that historical period.
Today, people no longer need the tunnel to shelter but consider it as one of the top destinations for tourists in Vietnam travel who join some history-discovering tour. If you are fond of history, and you prefer adventure, paying a visit to Vinh Moc tunnel is foremost suggestion.
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