The Majestic Splendor of Hue Citadel

Constructions of the last reigns are often the most intact ruins of all emperors, and Hue Citadel is not exceptional. The citadel bears both the beauty and the sadness of the last dynasty of Vietnam. In a noon, choose a shelter, and enjoy the tenderness of here.

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The Purple Forbidden City

The Purple Forbidden City

Since the time of the Nguyen Lords, Hue has been chosen as the capital of the south. It was the capital during the reign of King Quang Trung Nguyen Hue and later became the official capital of the country under Emperor Nguyen Phuc Anh, beginning the 143-year reign of the Nguyen dynasty. With its rich history spanning nine generations, it is not difficult to understand why Emperor Gia Long chose this land as the capital for his reign.

Ngo Mon Gate

Ngo Mon Gate

The Complex of Hue Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a massive complex featuring hundreds of monuments and ruins from the Vietnam War. Visitors can explore the Forbidden Purple City, the Imperial City, royal tombs, flag tower, pagodas, temples, library, and museum, which offer a wealth of information and experiences, according to Bestpricetravel.

Construction of the Hue Citadel began in 1805. Situated on the north bank of the Perfume River, it covers an area of 520 hectares and features 10 main gates.

Hien Nhon Gate

Hien Nhon Gate

The original construction of the Hue Citadel was made of earth, but it was later rebuilt using brick during the reign of Gia Long. The citadel is a unique blend of Vietnam’s traditional architectural principles, Eastern philosophy with the five elements of yin and yang from China, and characteristics influenced by Western military architecture in the Vauban style. (a French architect in the late seventeenth century).

Meridian Gate

Meridian Gate

In the early modern history of Vietnam, the construction of the Hue Citadel was one of the largest projects, involving the participation of tens of thousands of people and the use of millions of cubic meters of rock. The construction lasted from 1803 to 1832 and included tasks such as trenching, river filling, migration, graves relocation, and molding, according to VietnamtourismGov.

Unfortunately, the Imperial Citadel today is a mere shadow of its former glory. Most of its temples, pavilions, walls, and gates suffered severe damage during wars. Originally consisting of more than 160 buildings, only 20 buildings survived the destruction under French rule and Vietnam War. However, in 1993, the Citadel was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, elevating its importance in Vietnam’s tourism development.

Thai Hoa Palace

The Kinh Thanh Hue

The first part of the Hue Citadel to visit is the exterior circle known as Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue Capital Citadel). This square-shaped area has a circumference of almost 10km and features 24 bastions on its walls for defensive purposes. Connected to the Tran Binh Bastion, the Citadel has an ancillary gate called the Tran Binh Mon (Peaceful Protector Gate).

Big square in front of the main gate

Big square in front of the main gate

The second circle of the Hue Citadel is the Hoang Thanh (Royal Citadel), which is the most important part. It spans over 600m on each side and is constructed with 4m-high and 1m-thick brick walls. The Royal Citadel includes more than 100 architectural works divided into four sections: the Ngo Mon Gate and Thai Hoa Palace used for grand ceremonies, the shrines of Nguyen Dynasty’s Kings, the internal affairs office, and the Kham Van Palace and Co Hai Garden where the princes studied or relaxed.

The Hoang Thanh is the most important part of the Imperial City

The Hoang Thanh is the most important part of the Imperial City

The sprawling complex of the Hue Citadel was the residence and administrative center of the Emperors and their relatives. A part of this citadel is known as “The Purple Forbidden City.” Most of the Purple Forbidden City, where the emperor resided, was destroyed, but many bullet holes can still be seen on the walls. The original structures were modeled after the Chinese Forbidden City in Beijing. Behind the Throne Palace, the Forbidden City consisted of 50 architectural constructions of different sizes and 7 gates. Although restoration progress has been slow, some spots now resemble their original forms. Visitors can still see the city gates, walls, beautifully restored halls, and the ancient moat fed by the Perfume River. The feudal architecture of Dai Cung Mon (Grate Palace), Can Chanh Palace (Emperor’s daily working place), Can Thanh (Emperor’s private palace), Khon Thai Residence (Queen’s private apartment), Duyet Thi Duong house (Royal theater), Thuong Thien (Royal kitchen for the Emperor), Thai Binh Lau (Emperor’s reading room), and more are special attractions that have fascinated countless visitors.

The Mausoleums

Tomb of King Khai Dinh

Tomb of King Khai Dinh

Thanks to serving many former dynasties, the Hue Citadel is home to several beautiful tombs dedicated to the Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty. The royal tombs in Hue are quite diverse and are situated along the Perfume River (Huong River).

The three most renowned tombs are Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, and Minh Mang, known for their outstanding architecture. Tu Duc Tomb was built from 1864 to 1867 while King Tu Duc was still alive. Situated around a beautiful lake, Tu Duc Tomb is considered one of the most beautiful royal tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty. Its architecture harmonizes perfectly with nature.

The Surrounding Scenery

The To Mieu Temple complex

The To Mieu Temple complex

The To Mieu Temple complex was commissioned by Emperor Minh Mang in 1823 to honor the previous nine rulers of his dynastic line. The temple features nine tripod cauldrons at the courtyard in front. The design of the temple is inspired by the Imperial Ancestral Temple, or Taimiao, in Beijing.

Co Ha Gardens

Co Ha Gardens

Co Ha Gardens, located in the northeast corner of the Imperial City, were built by the first four emperors of the Nguyen dynasty. After falling into disrepair for many years, a restoration project has brought back the opulence of this area.

Co Ha Gardens

Co Ha Gardens

Finally, Thien Mu Pagoda is a sacred pagoda in Hue. Legend has it that an old woman appeared on the hill where the pagoda stands today and prophesied the construction of a Buddhist pagoda by a Lord for the country’s prosperity. Lord Nguyen Hoang, upon hearing this, ordered the construction of the pagoda known as the “Heavenly Lady.”

The pagoda is situated on Ha Khe hill, on the left bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Long village, 5km from Hue city. It was built in 1601 and later renovated by Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan in 1665. Several kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, including Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, and Thanh Thai, carried out further restoration work on the pagoda. The pagoda complex includes the Phuoc Duyen tower, which was erected in 1884 by King Thieu Tri. The tower has seven storeys and stands at 2.5m high. Other significant structures in the pagoda include the Dai Hung shrine, which houses bronze cast statues and precious antiques.

Thien Mu Pagoda

Thien Mu Pagoda

Thien Mu Pagoda is surrounded by beautiful flowers and ornamental plants. At the far end of the garden, there is a serene and romantic pine-tree forest, according to Vietnamtravel.

The pagoda suffered extensive damage in 1943, but bonze Thich Don Hau led a significant renovation project that lasted for more than 30 years.

Talking about Central Vietnam, people often focus on the sun, wind, and the region’s dry and harsh nature. However, this lost imperial city still radiates a romantic atmosphere. The Hue Citadel serves as a bridge between the ancient and the modern.