This was a place Emperors and the Royal family alike would spend their leisure time, admiring the charms and experiencing sensations benefitting citizens of such stature. This was under the control of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last Royal Court of Vietnam. It was a place of high esteem. It was also a place which raised much curiosity amongst the ordinary residents of Hue. Thus, it became a place to be won and it was destroyed by people’s longing for more riches and desires through war.
This was once a hidden spot within a defensive-minded citadel. The moat reminds those of East Asian Kingdoms around at the time. Beijing’s Forbidden City has a similar layout. Mimicry is seen as a homage. This regal outlet is no different. Built between 1802-1833 It took 30 years to build. It used some complex geomancy. Feng Shui of each part represents the significant power of the Emperor. It protects the Royal assets. You can see the symmetry and representation of the structure within its landscape. The mountains show protection to the left, representing the role of the dragon. The scenery on the right is the white tigers, who protect the enclosure from evil spirits. There are colours, cardinal points and elements which played a role in this design. The symbolism is everywhere. This is a now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The surrounding wall is around 10km in circumference and around 6.6 metres high. Brick has replaced the original mud formations. The moat or trench surrounds the wall. There are four main gates. Meridian, the main gate, faces south. This is the midday gate or the path for those with Royal Heritage. The other gates face other points of the compass, North, East and West. Inside this citadel is the purple forbidden city, a name copied from Beijing’s Forbidden City. Only people with certain status could spend here during the Nguyen Dynasty.
The enclosure came under increased scrutiny after the fall of the Royal Nguyen rule in 1945. The core of the Imperial Area was burned in 1947 after a long battle between the French and Viet Minh. Again, parts were destroyed after a revolutionary attack took control of Hue in 1968. Only 10 major sites remain after it was confirmed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. These sites have been restored, with some still undergoing reconstruction. Notable monuments, which can be viewed at the time of writing, include the Pavilion of Splendour, the Gate of Manifest Benevolence and the Throne on the Hall of Supreme Harmony. There are still a lot of ancient and valuable relics to be seen in the enclosure.
Hue is known for this enclosure more than anything else. The atmosphere is one that resembles that of a former imperial embracement with its artefacts and treasures. The basic geomancy has drawn the lines to give this enclosure a unique aura, regardless of the current quality and dismemberment of the structures inside. This is a rustic version of an imperialist age remembered fondly yet slowly floating away with the wind.
The Imperial City is located at Than Pho Hue, Thua Thien Hue. It is open seven days a week, from 08:00-17:00. Thursday is open until 22:00.