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The Citadel and Imperial City

Hue Travel Blog

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The Citadel (Hue, Vietnam)

The city of Hue is one of the most important cultural historic centers of Vietnam, and we had decided to spend enough time in this place to discover everything Hue had to offer. We started at the citadel, located at banks of the Perfume river and the basis of imperial history in Vietnam.

Vietnam has had emperors for more than a thousand years. The imperial history consisted of several dynasties, the most successful being the Nguyen dynasty, which started in 1788 and ended in 1887 when the French founded the Indochinese Union.

The citadel was build in 1805 by the first Nguyen emperor, Gia Long. From the outside, the citadel may at first seem to be a military construction, but as soon as we neared the Ngo Mon gate - the entrance - it was clear that there were very little military installations to be found beyond the large walls.

The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to the imperial city (Hue, Vietnam)

The complex inside the citadel consists of several palaces, temples, gates and gardens. There are more than a hundred structures of great artistic and historical value. The Ngo Mon gate is the entrance gate, and the first view of the Imperial City. We thought this gate alone was so elegant and breathtakingly beautiful we just couldn’t stop taking pictures. We have been to China. We have seen the Forbidden City in Beijing. This gate is at least just as impressive than China’s best architecture…

There is a large balcony at the gate, here the emperor would sit at a throne during state affairs.  The gate has five doorways, which were used to be shut all year round, except during coronations, royal processions and announcements of successful Mandarin candidates.

Behind the Ngo Mon gate lies Thai Hoa Palace, the largest and most impressive palace.

The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to the imperial city (Hue, Vietnam)
It is located in the centre of the Imperial City. It is an important building because it houses the golden throne, which is considered a holy relic. Behind this Thai Hoa Palace is the Forbidden Purple City, where the emperor, the Most Treasured Lady, the emperors children and concubines lived, together with other people working there such as eunuchs, female mandarins, maid-servants, guards, physicians and cooks.

On either side of the Can Chanh Palace, where the king did his affairs and gave audiences, were the Left House and the Right House. Here all the mandarins waited and tidied their court dresses before attending the morning meetings at court.

Most of the Purple City has been lost because of bombings during wars, but reconstructions have been going on for years, and so far the royal theatre and library are in good shape once again.

The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to the imperial city (Hue, Vietnam)

This alone is enough to impress any visitor, but the Imperial City doesn’t stop here. At the left side of Thai Hoa Palace an entire temple area can be found, with beautiful gardens, colourful gates and its highlight: The Mieu and Hien Lam pavilion.

The Imperial City has so much beauty and splendor, it left myself and my husband completely flabbergasted. It was more than we could ever have expected, our visit to this Unesco World Heritage Site turned out to be the highlight of our entire trip through Vietnam.

I’m still reading the books I bought at the Citadel, they tell about the emperors and their life at the Forbidden Purple City. Who knew I would ever stumble upon imperial stories and facts that are at least just as interesting as the Chinese ones?

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The Citadel (Hue, Vietnam)
The Citadel (Hue, Vietnam)
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance to…
The Ngo Mon Gate, main entrance t…
View at the Imperial Enclosure, Th…
View at the Imperial Enclosure, T…
Watch out! Hungry fish! (Imperial …
Watch out! Hungry fish! (Imperial…
The Imperial Enclosure (Hue, Vietn…
The Imperial Enclosure (Hue, Viet…
A tourist dressed up like an emper…
A tourist dressed up like an empe…
The Forbidden Purple City or what…
The Forbidden Purple City or what…
Decorations of dragons on roofs at…
Decorations of dragons on roofs a…
Decorations of dragons on roofs at…
Decorations of dragons on roofs a…
The temple area of the Imperial En…
The temple area of the Imperial E…
The temple area of the Imperial En…
The temple area of the Imperial E…
The temple area of the Imperial En…
The temple area of the Imperial E…
The urns in front of the Hien Lam …
The urns in front of the Hien Lam…
The Hien Lam Pavillion (Hue, Vietn…
The Hien Lam Pavillion (Hue, Viet…
The Hien Lam Pavillion (Hue, Vietn…
The Hien Lam Pavillion (Hue, Viet…
The Hien Lam Pavillion (Hue, Vietn…
The Hien Lam Pavillion (Hue, Viet…
View at The Mieu Temple (Hue, Viet…
View at The Mieu Temple (Hue, Vie…
The Mieu Temple (Hue, Vietnam)
The Mieu Temple (Hue, Vietnam)
The Mieu Temple (Hue, Vietnam)
The Mieu Temple (Hue, Vietnam)
The temple area of the Imperial En…
The temple area of the Imperial E…
The temple area of the Imperial En…
The temple area of the Imperial E…
The temple area of the Imperial En…
The temple area of the Imperial E…
Hue
photo by: Paulovic