At Last!! the Citadel explained

Rear gate

Do you remember that Carl and I were trying to discover what the four citadel gates were all about? It started with a single question I had. For 12 years I have passed through 2 small gates that have thick earthen walls surrounding them. Every time I would wonder what they were for. The mystery deepened when we discovered 2 more gates and walls with seemingly no roads leading to them, in fact, one of them opened upon a ravine. Hmmmmm…… We did an extensive ride around but were still stumped and for weeks Carl and I were stumped until now. My pal sent me an email that contained the information on this illusive place. I have not been able to find anything on the internet, but somewhere Carl came up with the following:

Dien Khanh Citadel
Dien Khanh Citadel is situated on Dien Khanh Townlet, Dien Khanh District, Khanh Hoa Province.
Characteristic: The Dien Khanh Citadel was built by Nguyen Anh in 1793 with an area of 36,000 square meters according to the Vauban military architecture which was popular in Western Europe in 17th – 18th centuries.The citadel’s wall was in an in equilateral hexagon of 3.5m height. The outer face was vertically constructed while the inner was a little bit sloping by two terraces forming a favorable pavement. Inside the corners, there were large fields which were convenient for military resident. On the top of corners there stood fortresses of 2m high with canons above. On the roof of the citadel, there planted closet bamboo and other barricade trees. Surrounding the citadel were moats of 4 to 5 meters deep, 10 meters wide, flooded by water.At first the citadel had 6 gates but nowadays it remains only 4 ones which are East Gate, West Gate, Front Gate (to the South), Back Gate (to the North). There had been here royal palace, private residents of feudal mandarins, warehouses and jails…Dien Khanh is one of the oldest citadels in the south of Vietnam and it is one of the precious vestiges for studying ancient citadels.


Front gate

Well there you have it a small piece of history that very few people know about. I have asked local people and family but they were totally unaware of the significance of the gates. I now understand the ravine that I was wondering about… it was a mote. I now have another trip to take there to see if I can reconstruct some of the images in my head of how it would have worked. We tried last time to circle the perimeter, but some very angry dogs made us think differently.

A little about life now. Power has been constant all week. It is a welcome relief to tourists and those of us who need to be cooled during the day. The hotel is busy and filled with very nice people. Things are running smoothly for now.

gate toponly garbage bins I have seenanother garbage bin..... only in Vietnam

I just got back from visiting with friends and We have decided that a trip back to the Citadel is in the works for tomorrow. Dogs be damned!! we will make a circle around the wall and discover if there is any trace of the old structures…. Who knows??? we might even have a new adventure to write about.

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

5 thoughts on “At Last!! the Citadel explained

  1. I was stationed in the South Wing of the Dien Khanh citadelle during the first part of 1968. Pull up Tom Ross’s web site for Special Forces Detachment A-502 and you should find some photos. The South Gate was closed up then, and only rediscovered as a gate when Major Ngoc (the LLDB Detachment Commander) decided to knock out what appeared to be a filled tower to use as a machinegun position. It was then taht they discovered taht it had only been bricked up. The citadel was taken by the Viet Minh in 1945, and held until early 1946 when a combined attack by the 6th Colonial Infantry Regiment and elements of LTC Massu’s 2nd Free French Armored Division Task Force took it back. It was likely manned by a company of the 2nd Foreign Legion Infantry Regiment from 46-48, whne Nha Trang was the Regimental Hqs.

  2. You may have to ask Mai about some of her former dwellings circa 1975-? I was interested to know if my old base at Dong Ba Thin was used as a prison for Tu Do Nguoi Viet.

  3. I think you’re right about Dien Khanh street Drifter. We were back there today and although forced to seek shelter at our favorite beer place from a mid-afternoon deluge, we has some happy moments with a wonderfully charming elderly couple and later with an interesting quartet of kintergarden teachers. And, of course, the sweet “Beer Larue Girl” at the beer place.

    Tomorrow we rendezvous at Ooot’s then off to a mysterious luncheon with Ha, the owner.

    After another shot at the Citadel I think its former POW camps up next (still in the research stages). I’ve just got to say it, this is so much fun!

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