Hue Imperial city - Things to know

Last updated - January 27, 2024
Hue Imperial city - Things to know

Acknowledged and honored by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site, Hue Imperial City holds an esteemed status as one of Vietnam's most renowned destinations, captivating countless domestic and international tourists each year.

Hue Imperial City, a treasure trove of architectural marvels, temples, and palaces await, boasting remarkable cultural and architectural significance. These timeless structures stand as testaments to the rich heritage and historical legacy that Hue Imperial City embodies, offering visitors a glimpse of Vietnam in the past.

Table of contents


Location of Hue Imperial city

Situated on the northern bank of the Perfume River, at the heart of the city, lies the remarkable Hue Imperial city or Hue citadel, encompassing an impressive circumference of 10,000 meters. Intriguingly, the emperors meticulously adhered to both geographical and Feng Shui principles when constructing the citadel. The Imperial city was purposefully oriented towards the South, with the majestic Ngu Binh mountain serving as a symbolic front screen.

Maps of Hue Imperial city

Moreover, the emperors meticulously planned the architectural layout of the citadel, ensuring harmonious proportions throughout. Additionally, encircling the Hue City Citadel, one can find a total of 10 gates and a magnificent moat stretching for 7 kilometers. These elements served not only as decorative features but also provided protection and acted as a natural air-conditioning system for the citadel.

History of Hue Imperial city

The Hue Imperial city served as the residence and governance center for the 9 Nguyen Lords and 13 Nguyen Dynasty Emperors. In 1803, Emperor Gia Long personally surveyed the landscape to identify a fitting location for constructing this magnificent complex. The construction spanned an impressive 27-year period, commencing in 1805 and concluding in 1832.

Structure of Hue Imperial city

The expansive Hue Citadel spans an impressive area of 500 hectares and is fortified by three imposing ramparts.
The first section is known as Kinh Thanh Hue, or the Hue Citadel. It was commissioned by Emperor Gia Long in 1805. Despite the test of time and natural disasters, this grand structure has remained steadfast, comprising 140 magnificent buildings.

A verry beautiful structure of Thai Hoa Palace in Hue Citadel

Spanning a circumference of 9 kilometers, the Hue Citadel is adorned with 10 gates, while 24 bastions are strategically positioned atop the walls, serving defensive purposes.

Moving beyond the Noon Gate ( Ngo Mon), we encounter the Royal City, which holds immense significance within the citadel. This section serves as the focal point for grand ceremonies and houses various shrines.

In the Royal City, were the working quarters of the Emperor and mandarins. It is here that crucial meetings concerning internal affairs took place.

Lastly, the Hue Forbidden City stands as the final section. Constructed in 1803, it was intended to be the private residence of the emperors, the royal family, and the eunuchs.
Surrounding the Forbidden City are robust brick walls, reaching a height of 3 meters and boasting a thickness of 0.7 meters.

Things to see in Hue Imperial city

Ngo Mon or Noon Gate

Ngo Mon Gate, situated at the southern entrance of Hue Imperial City, holds a significant role as both the prominent face of the Citadel and a representation of the feudal dynasty.

This magnificent gate was constructed during the reign of Minh Mang, the second king of the Nguyen Dynasty, showcasing the rich architectural heritage of the era. The design of Ngo Mon Gate is intricate, featuring two distinct sections: the sturdy base platform at the bottom, and the elevated Ngu Phung floor above.

Ngo Mon Gate or Noon Gate at Hue Imperial city

Despite their contrasting properties and construction materials, these two components harmoniously merge to form a seamless and cohesive structure. Nestled amidst lush greenery, blooming flowers, and serene water features, Ngo Mon Gate emanates an aura of relaxation and tranquility. It is precisely this ambiance that has etched the image of this gate deep into the hearts and minds of people, making it an iconic symbol of Hue.

Ky Dai or Flag Tower

Ky Dai, positioned at the heart of the southern region of Hue Citadel within the Nam Chanh fortress, serves as a prominent location for displaying the Citadel's flag.

Ky Dai - Flag tower in Hue citadel

This grand flag tower boasts a substantial architectural presence, comprising three floors and standing tall at a height of 17.5 meters. Throughout the storied history of Hue Citadel, Ky Dai has stood witness to numerous significant historical events, its presence intertwined with the ebb and flow of the Citadel's fortunes.

Thai Hoa Palace or Supreme Harmony Palace

Thai Hoa Palace, with its distinctive architectural characteristics, holds immense significance as one of the most crucial structures within the Hue imperial city.

As the centerpiece of Hue, it stands as a powerful symbol of the Nguyen Dynasty's authority. Thai Hoa Palace served as a venue for momentous ceremonies, including coronations, receptions for foreign envoys, the King's birthday celebrations, and bi-monthly royal court gatherings.

Thai Hoa Palace in Hue citadel

Only the King, the royal family, and the esteemed Ministers were granted access to enter the Palace. The interior of Thai Hoa Palace was a sight to behold, adorned with intricate gold inlays, exquisitely painted and carved wooden elements. The upper ceiling boasted grand lanterns adorned with stylized images and poetic verses.

Please note that photography of the Palace's interior is not permitted. Adjacent to the Palace lies a courtyard, where the Ministers would gather, standing in line, facing the Palace as they partook in ceremonial proceedings.

The To Temple

The To Temple, originally built in 1821 by Emperor Minh Mang, stands as a place of reverence dedicated to Emperor Gia Long, the visionary founder of the Nguyen dynasty. Throughout the years, the temple's worship has extended to encompass numerous Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty.

The To Temple in Hue citadel

However, it is important to note that three deposed Emperors, namely Duc Duc, Hiep Hoa, and Bao Dai, are not included in the temple's worship rituals. Furthermore, in the past, cultural customs dictated that women were not permitted to enter the sacred grounds of The To Temple.

Dien Tho Palace

The private residence area of the Emperor's mother and grandmother remains an impressive and remarkably preserved complex to this day. It stands as the largest structure within the vicinity. This architectural marvel comprises more than 10 buildings, each encompassed by rectangular walls.

Dien Tho Palace in Hue citadel

The Dien Tho Palace in this area is interconnected by a system of roofed corridors, allowing for easy access and passage between them. It is fascinating to imagine the Emperor strolling through this very corridor on a daily basis, visiting and tending to his beloved mother.

Notices when visiting Hue Imperial city

Dress code

If you are a woman, opting for long maxi skirts or elegant dresses adorned with lovely color motifs would be a splendid choice when visiting this locale. Donning a hat will not only add a touch of style but also provide protection from the sun's rays.

For men, a comfortable T-shirt paired with trousers would suffice for the occasion. Considering the hot weather and the expanse of the location, it is advisable to steer clear of long-sleeved shirts to ensure optimal comfort throughout your visit.

Suitable dress code to visit Hue Imperial city

What to bring ?

Hat, sunscreen, umbrella, water are necessary to bring when you visiting Hue Imperial city

Entrance fee

The entrance fee for Hue Imperial City is priced at VND 200,000 per adult (about $ 8.7) and VND 40,000 per child between the ages of 5 and 12 ( about $ 1.7). Children under 5 years old are free of charge.

Opening hours

The Hue Imperial City is a sprawling complex that offers ample exploration opportunities, warranting a substantial amount of time. To fully appreciate its grandeur, it is recommended to allocate at least half a day for your visit.

The opening hours of the Hue Imperial City are from 7am to 5pm, allowing for a full day of discovery. Remarkably, it remains open daily, including during the Lunar New Year, ensuring visitors can experience its historical wonders year-round.

Camera and Film
Not allowed for photo or filming inside the Palace.

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