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German experts help ‘whiten’ Meridian Gate in ancient Hue citadel

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 12:50 GMT+7
German experts help ‘whiten’ Meridian Gate in ancient Hue citadel
A foreign expert cleans the wall of the Ngo Mon by steam. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre

A project with assistance from German experts was launched on Friday to give the main gate to the Imperial City located within the citadel of Hue in the namesake city in central Vietnam a ‘whitened’ look.

The Meridian Gate, also known as the South Gate or Ngo Mon in Vietnamese, is one of the architectural relics from the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam's last monarchy, in Hue, the capital city of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

As the structure’s walls have been blackened and covered with dirt, moss and fungus patches, the Hue Relics Preservation Center, in cooperation with a cleansing technology company has decided to clean it using an eco-friendly and chemical-free method known as steam cleaning.

The method includes a cleaning machine, which will heat the steam at boiling temperatures, and a special nozzle to increase pressure of the steam flow to 0.5-1 bar as it exits the pipe and hits the Ngo Mon’s walls.

This clean-up mechanism will help eliminate all kinds of dirt, moss, and mold on the surface of the construction’s walls and destroy the bacteria deep inside the rock holes below the surface thanks to the high temperature of hot steam, according to Andrea Teufel, a conservation expert from Germany.

In addition, this method also helps prevent bacteria from returning to the walls for longer time, compared to normal manual cleansing methods.

A foreign expert gives instructions on cleaning the wall of the Ngo Mon by steam. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre
A foreign expert gives instructions on cleaning the wall of the Ngo Mon by steam. Photo: Nhat Linh / Tuoi Tre

Phan Thanh Hai, director of Thua Thien-Hue culture department, said that the cleaning activities will not affect the existing state of the ancient construction.

“We also work to ensure the process of cleaning won’t affect tourism activities at the Hue Citadel, as Ngo Mon remains the main entrance for visitors to this historical site,” Hai added.

A team of 14 people, including two foreign experts and six experts from the Hue Relics Preservation Center, is working against the clock to complete the project within 15 days.

Ngo Mon was built as the main and the biggest entrance to the Hue Imperial Citadel in 1833, during the Nguyen Dynasty.

The gate was either open to the king or used for receiving ambassadors from other countries.

Due to time and war, Ngo Mon was seriously damaged. In 1970, Ngo Mon and many other works at the citadel were repaired.

The Meridian Gate is also undergoing another restoration process that is expected to complete by 2020.

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