Two unique leaning bell towers at the church of Dai Lo parish in Ha Ky commune, Tu Ky district, Hai Duong province, have existed for more than 100 years.
The towers on the left and right of the church
The relics bear many unique architectural features attractive to visitors.
The towers were built in 1914 together with a chapel, the church, and a common house by priest Nguyen Khac Can and parishioners.
Each 18 m high bell tower consists of two floors. 60 m from the nave, the two bell towers are symmetrically situated on both sides of the church.
The cylindrical bell towers have hemispherical domes topped with a cross and many Western-style arched windows on the second floors.
The two towers were designed separately from the church, which is different from many other churches in Hai Duong.
The domes of the towers are made of refined bricks without the use of curved iron. In addition to the Western architecture, local parishioners built the bell towers with some specific features, especially in terms of materials.
Elderly people in Dai Lo hamlet said it took two years to complete the works. The bricks used to build the towers were refined from clay in rice fields by parishioners. Sugarcane molasses mixed with mortar formed close coherence.
Because of building on filled grounds with weak foundations, the towers leaned westward as soon as the construction finished and have kept that posture since then.
Previously, bells were placed in both towers and the nave. However, recently, parishioners have relocated the bell in the left tower to the nave for fear that the tower is more slanting. Currently, there are three bells at the church of Dai Lo parish, each of which weighs more than two quintals.
In 1938, the church was restored and rebuilt. The leaning bell towers were stable and specific features of the church, so parishioners left them untouched.
According to the parish head Bui Van Quyet, there have been many suggestions about adjusting the posture of the two bell towers but the parish is determined to keep it because this is a unique feature of the church.
There are 280 Catholic families in Dai Lo hamlet, accounting for 45% of households in the locality.
"The two bell towers have historical value and are greatly meaningful to the local parishioners. The works still retain their original architecture and specific patterns. This is the pride of a masterpiece of art bequeathed by previous generations," said parishioner Bui Van Den (83 years old) in Dai Lo parish.
Chairman of the People's Committee of Ha Ky commune Pham Van An said the two leaning bell towers are unique but unpopular structures. This also is the only pair of leaning bell towers in the province. Visitors are mainly parishioners from several localities.