Imperial City of Hue | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Imperial City of Hue

Hue, Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam

Peta Stamper

20 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Imperial City of Hue

The Imperial City of Hue was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 and of vital importance to the last Vietnamese royal house of the Nguyen Dynasty. As the country’s political, cultural and religious centre for this period, Hue boasts an array of architectural treasures and UNESCO has described it as an “outstanding example of an eastern feudal capital”.

Of particular significance is the way in which the city was integrated within its natural surroundings.

Imperial City of Hue history

Nguyen Anh ascended the throne of a newly unified Vietnam in 1789 and immediately proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long with Hue. The new ruler consulted divination to decide where a new city should be built, and in 1804 construction began on the Imperial City of Hue with thousands of workers ordered to build the citadel and moat.

The city suffered in 1947 when the Viet Minh seized the citadel. A French counter attack besieged the city and a 6-week battle destroyed many major buildings and the Imperial Palace was burned. Later, during the Battle of Hue in 1968, US troops were ordered to hold shelling on the city because of its heritage. However, these restrictions were gradually lifted.

Imperial City of Hue today

Listed as a World Heritage Site since 1993, the site of the Imperial City of Hue is actually a vast complex of monuments spread over 4 kilometres and encompassing some 140 constructions of varying sizes including temples, pavilions, a library and even a theatre. This was all protected by three circles of impressive ramparts reinforced by 24 bastions and pierced by 10 intricately decorated gates.

Many sources refer to the city as the citadel, but the Hue Citadel is just one aspect of its remains, within which are set the Imperial Residence, the Imperial City or Hoang Thanh and the Forbidden Purple City or Tu Cam Thanh as well as administrative and military structures.

Beyond its Citadel, the Imperial City of Hue has an array of sites, including fortresses such as Tran Hai Thanh and Tran Binh Dai. Further out, one can find its spiritual quarter with its temples and tombs.

Getting to the Imperial City of Hue

Located in Thanh pho, Hue, the Imperial City sits opposite the river from the new buildings and accommodation and therefore is an easy walk away. Otherwise you can use the Grab app to hop into a taxi there.

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