The Imperial City Description:
The Imperial Citadel in Hue is a massive fortress compound that served as Vietnam’s seat of power from 1802 to 1945 under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site called The Complex of Hue Monuments since 1993, the Imperial Citadel is one of the city of Hue’s most prominent features, and one of the most visited sightseeing destinations in Vietnam.
Nguyen Phuc Anh, who would later change his name to Emperor Gia Long, consolidated control of Vietnam for the first time in nearly three centuries after defeating the Tay Son Dynasty that controlled the northern reaches of Vietnam in 1802.
In honor of his victory, and the unification of Vietnam, Nguyen consulted with a group of sages who used geomancy – a kind of mystic divination – to select the Imperial City’s location on the northern banks of the Perfume River as an auspicious and defensible site.
The Imperial Citadel is ringed with a moat fed by the scenic Perfume River to the south of the fortresses’ main gates. The fortress is ringed by high walls stretching over a mile around the compound.
The citadel was originally comprised of four inner-compounds. Kinh Thanh was full of administrative buildings charged with governing the empire. Hoang Thanh was comprised of shrines, temples, and palaces owned by the Emperor’s courtiers. Dai Noi was the inner city area of the citadel comprised mostly of market shops and housing. But the heart of the entire complex was Tu Cam Thanh, the Forbidden Purple City, which was strictly for the Emperor’s residence.
The citadel was a bustling structure filled with the hum of daily life even through the early 20th century as most of the compound was still being used by the Nguyen Dynasty for the governance of Vietnam.
Sadly, the 1968 Tet Offensive wrought massive amounts of collateral damage to the citadel’s structures. Of the original 148 structures inside the citadel, only about 20 remain standing and in good condition. Efforts to restore and reconstruct the historic monuments and structures are an ongoing task.
Best Time to Visit The Imperial City:
Central Vietnam’s best weather falls between October and March. Between May and September the weather is hot, but short bursts of rainfall are common, which helps cool the region considerably.
How to get to The Imperial City:
The Imperial Citadel is centrally located in the Central Vietnamese city of Hue. Guests traveling on our luxury tours of Vietnam reach the city via a short flight from the Northern Vietnamese city of Hanoi, and are then chauffeured through the city’s sights and monuments by our private vehicle services.
The Imperial City Highlights:
UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the world’s most stunning and important works of culture and architecture. History and architecture enthusiasts are at the top of the list of travelers who enjoy visiting Hue’s Imperial Citadel, but as with any UNESCO site, we consider the citadel to be a must-see while enjoying one of our Vietnam tours.
Appropriate Attire :
Western-style clothing choices are fine inside the remaining structures. Due to the size of the compound, it’s best to dress in light clothing, especially during the warm summer months.