Noon Gate at The Citadel, Hue – Image courtesy of Luru Ly/Wikimedia Commons
Introducing The Citadel, Hue
Explore this sprawling complex of evocative temples and pavilions set amid lotus ponds and pretty gardens – known collectively as The Citadel. Follow pathways through the former Imperial City and into the royal palace of the Forbidden Purple City.
The Imperial City rose to prominence as the capital of the feudal Nguyen dynasty, which ruled much of Vietnam from 1802 until 1945, when the Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in favour of Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary government.
Constructed over several years from 1804 on a site chosen by Emperor Gia Long’s geomancers, the Citadel was built for the exclusive use of the emperor and his household, much like Beijing's Forbidden City.
Surrounded by a 2.5km-long and 6m-high wall flanked on the exterior by a moat filled with water from the Perfume River, the Citadel comprises three areas: the outer area, known as the Citadel, an inner area, known as the Imperial City, and at the very centre, the Forbidden Purple City, where the emperor and his family lived.
Much of the original city was destroyed during fighting between the French and Viet Minh in 1947, and again during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Only a few buildings survive, such as the Thai Hoa and Can Thanh temples, The Mieu, and Hien Lam Cac.
The old city of Hue became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then ongoing reconstruction has restored many buildings to their former glory.
While the Imperial City is easy to explore on foot, it’s best to join a tour or find a good English-speaking guide to get the most out of your visit.
Attractions within the Citadel, include:
The Noon Gate
(Cua Ngo Mon) – Walk in the footsteps of the emperor through the main entrance to the city, which was built in 1833 by Minh Mang.
The central walkway with its yellow doors, and the connecting bridge across the lotus pond, were reserved exclusively for the emperor. More . . .
Forbidden Purple City
– The Forbidden Purple City sits at the very centre of the Imperial City and was the former home of the emperor and his concubines. See ancient gateways overgrown with vegetation sitting side-by-side with magnificent restored buildings, such as the Thai Binh Reading Pavilion – notable for its beautifully landscaped surroundings, including a small lake with stone sculpture. More . . .
The Flag Tower
– See Vietnam’s tallest flagpole at 37m-high, which sits atop a large three-story rampart to the south of the Noon Gate. The tower was built in 1807 during Gia Long's reign and first hoisted the yellow flag of royalty, which was later exchanged by many others during Vietnam's turbulent history.
Location: Northern side of the Perfume River, Hue
Hours: Daily 7am - 5:30pm