Reviving a ruin
Not many people know that 30 years ago Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam was just a ruin covered with rank grass , and its stone stelae had become slanted and mossy. Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam looked like a deserted ground. Mr Nguyen Vinh Cat said: “To the best of my recollection, Van Mieu then looked like no more than a ruin. The main entrance gate easily got flooded whenever it rained. At the back, now Thai Hoc Section, was a bare ground where social crimes like drug-taking and gambling took place openly. Moreover, several temples were places for superstitious practices. Van Mieu was such a devastated relic that the children living nearby would climb up the low wall into the relic and swim in Thien Quang Well.”
(photo: Mr Nguyen Vinh Cat, Former Director of Hanoi Department of Culture and Information, concurrently Director of Center for Scientific and Cultural Activities Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam)
From 1985-1986, Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam served as a center for summer activities of the youth in Ha Noi. Thai Hoc Courtyard still was a bare ground where children would gather to play outdoor games. Around late 1987, the General Secretary Nguyen Van Linh visited Van Mieu. He saw the bad conditions of the relic with his own eyes, then he directed Hanoi People’s Committee to take necessary steps to conserve it. Afterwards, Hanoi People’s Committee decided to set up a Center for organizing cuLtural and educational activities at Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam.
On April 25th, 1988, Hanoi People’s Committee issued the Decision No.1776 QD/UB to found “Center for Scientific and Cultural Activities” governed by the Hanoi Department of Culture and Information( now The Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports). The center was intended to manage the site Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam; organize cultural and scientific activities which facilitate the development of Hanoi; provide guided tours for domestic and foreign visitors, also services for domestic and foreign researchers; and work out plans for the conservation and restoration of the site. The Decision also announced the appointment of Mr Nguyen Vinh Cat (currently Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Information) to The Director of the Center at the same time.
The “revival” of the site in modern time.
Mr Cat said: “In the meeting with City Committee of the Party, discussing the conservation and development of heritage values of Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam in 1988, I put forward a proposal to set up a “Center for scientific and cultural activities” in Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam. For the purpose of fostering the values of the relic, cultural and scientific activities should be carried out simultaneously. ConsequentLy, that proposal was accepted”
Said Mrs Tran Thi Tam Dan, Former Deputy chairwoman of Hanoi People’s Committee(1988-1993): “it was such a judicious decision which timely met the demand of the city for cultural, scientific and educational activities; and organized a great number of conferences on the policies on cultural development….”. These conferences have become indispensable activities carried out annually in Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam.
Into a new stage
After 30 years of hard work, the Center for Scientific and CuLtural Activities has achieved good results. The original deserted ruin is now a popular destination attracting a great number of visitors. Traditional values of the relic have still remained unchanged: standing there are the old buildings, and ancient trees, but nowadays Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam looks much cleaner and orderly. The revival of the site has enormous significance in modern time.
(Photo: the collection of 82 stone stelae was recognized as the World Documentary Heritage)
(Photo: The relic was recognized as the Special National Site)
(Photo: The relic was recognized as Top Destination in 2017)
In May 2012, the relic was recognized as The Special National Relic. In deed, the center has made a new and important leap into a new stage.
Translator: Chuong Van