The Citadel Complex of Hue, built by Nguyen Dynasty from 1805 to 1945, was part of one of the greatest World Cultural Heritage sites in Vietnam, the relics of the Hue ancient capital.
Hue was the capital of the Southern Kingdom under Nguyen Lords’ Dynasty, and officially turned into the nation’s capital under Tay Son Dynasty, King Quang Trung. Ideally situated on the north bank of Perfume River (so called “Sông Hương” in Vietnamese), with a total area of 520ha, the citadel palace complex consists of three circles of ramparts, the Capital Citadel of Hue (so called “Kinh Thành Huế” in Vietnamese), the Royal Citadel (“Hoàng Thành” in Vietnamese) and the Forbidden Citadel (“Tử Cấm Thành” in Vietnamese).
The exterior circle, also the Capital Citadel of Hue, began to be built from 1805 under the reign of Emperor Gia Long and was finished in 1832 under the sovereignty of Emperor Ming Mang. Over the past 200 years, its architecture still retained original with nearly 140 small and large constructions. It is situated on an area of almost 10km in circumference, 6m high and 21m thick. On the top of the walls, 24 bastions were created for purely defensive purposes. In addition, the citadel has a secondary gate connecting to Tran Binh Bastion so-called “Tran Binh Mon” (meaning “Peace Protector Gate” in English).
The second circle or the royal citadel is the most important part of the citadel. It was built with bricks of 4m high and 1m thick from 1804 to 1833, under the reign of King Ming Mang. The citadel is more than 600m long for each side. It was protected by a trench system. Visitors get access to the Imperial Citadel through four entrance gates. Previously Ngo Mon Gate was only reserved for the King. Royal citadel is famous for more than 100 fascinating architectural works divided into four major sections. The first section of Ngo Mon Gate and Thai Hoa Palace played host to various grand ceremonies. The second section was used for placing shrines of the Kings under Nguyen Dynasty, including Trieu Mieu, Thai Mieu, Hung Mieu, The Mieu and Phung Tien Temples. The third section of internal affairs offices included storehouse for precious objects, workshop for manufacturing articles. The last section of Kham Van Palace and Co Ha Garden was where princes studied or relaxed.
The last circle is Tu Cam Thanh or the Forbidden Citadel. Situated in the heart of the Imperial Citadel complex, behind the Throne Palace, the Purple Forbidden Citadel was only reserved for Emperor and his family. Built in the early 1803 under reign of Emperor Gia Long, it was initially named Cung Thanh. In 1821, it was renamed into Tu Cam Thanh.
The whole site consists of 50 feudal buildings varying for different types and sizes and 7 entrance and exit gates. The main gate of the Forbidden Citadel is Dai Cung Mon (meaning “The Great Palace Gate” in English), only reserved for the Kings. Can Chanh Palace was where the Kings worked daily. Can Thanh (known as the Emperor’s Private Palace) was reserved for the Kings and Khon Thai Residence (Queen’s Private Apartment) was reserved for the Queens. There are still many other sections, such as Duyet Thi Duong House (Royal Theatre), Thuong Thien (The Kitchen for the Kings’ food), Thai Binh Lau (Kings’ reading room), all of which are of great historical and architectural values.
Come here and explore the relics of Vietnamese feudalism, you will surely be impressed by the ancient beauty and the untold stories within old stone walls. As life goes on; the precious historical and classical beauty of the nation would never be gone!