The Quang Tri Bastion, in the center of present day Quang Tri Municipal District, played an important role in Vietnamese history. It was a military bastion and an administrative office of the Nguyen Dynasty in Quang Tri Province from 1809 to 1945. It was first constructed in the early 19th century, then later reconstructed using bricks in 1824 by King Minh Mang.
The square-shaped citadel had a thick perimeter wall, 2,160 meters in circumference, with a gate on each side. There were four ramparts jutting out from each of the four corners to defend the four citadel gates, and a deep moat. Inside the fortress there were beautiful structures used as places of worship, and to celebrate festivals.
During colonial rule, the French established a military camp and a prison there in the late 19th century. The prison was used to detain communist insurgents.
In 1972, during the phase out of the American participation in the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese forces captured the fort. To recapture the fort, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces launched a heavy artillery and bombing attack. The bombing and shelling by the U.S. and South Vietnam forces destroyed all the structures inside the fortress. There was fierce fighting at the fort from June to September, and the walls of the citadel are riddled with bullet holes; evidence of the devastation of the fighting.
The U.S. and South Vietnam dropped and fired an estimated 330,000 tons of bombs and shells on the town of Quang Tri and the vicinity.
The Quang Tri Bastion is now quiet and peaceful, but visitors can still see the bombs and shells. There are photographs and documents on display in the museum in the bastion located east of National Highway 1A, and south of the Thach Han River. This historic site is well worth visiting, and will give you an idea of the fierceness of the fighting during the war.