The Imperial Citadel in Hué
One reason why I’ve chosen to go to Central Vietnam instead of the popular cities of Hanoi in the north or Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in the south is because the Central region has a concentration of 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites all quite accessible from the regions main gateway city of Da Nang. UNESCO’s got quite a lengthy list, which I doubt I could cover all of them in this lifetime. And you could never go wrong visiting these sites as they are carefully selected, funded and preserved.
The Ngo Mon Gate and Bridge
Our first stop is up to the city of Hué (h-way). I didn’t expect Hué to be such a big and modern city and was surprised to see how developed it was. I was imagining the place to be smaller, provincial like, with all the sights just a walking distance from each other. Though the place somehow caught up in urban development, the city still have the Complex Monuments spread out across the city along by the scenic Perfume River. These historical monuments, despite being stricken by war managed to survive and earned its rightful place in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The Ngo Mon night lights and the moon
The most prominent of these monuments is the Imperial Citadel, the former imperial seat of the government. Hué city was established in 1802 and was the political, cultural and religious center under the Nguyen dynasty until 1945. The citadel was heavily stricken with war from the French and Viet Minh in 1947, the Tet Offensive in 1968 and bombings by the Americans which destroyed the Inner City of the citadel. Despite this, there were major structures spared and major restorations of the other structures are on their way.
Courtyard and Thai Hoa Place across the Bridge
Upon arriving in the citadel you’ll be entering by the impressive Ngo Mon entrance, built in 1883 by Minh Mang. Its doors were exclusively for the emperor’s use. Going on the 2nd floor will give you a nice view of the surroundings of the citadel.
Thai Hoa Place emperor’s hall
Going further along the Ngo Mon Bridge is the Thai Hoa Place, the emperor’s coronation hall. The place has a very impressive roof with sophisitically designed guardians and dragon statues. Inside you’ll be able to view the intricately adorned Emperor’s seat.
Passing by Thai Hoa Place you’ll be entering the Forbidden Purple City, which unfortunately now is more of an empty field and ruins. On the sides there are still some Mandarin houses and pagodas still intact.
Best time to visit the Citadel would be in the afternoon till the sun sets as the night lights here is pretty impressive. There’s a share of tourist crowd here as usual so you can also opt to visit early morning where the crowd is thin. The place really reminds me of our local Walled city of Intramuros, but more impressive and grand. Admission to the citadel is around 55000 Dong or 3.5 USD.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.