Hue Citadel in Vietnam.
The Citadel and Imperial City at Hue is open daily from 0700 to 1700 - the Citadel's entrance is at Ngo Mon Gate and the entrance fee is around 55000 Dong. Guided tours often only allow around an hour to visit the Citadel but it's easy enough to wander around The Imperial City on your own as there is plenty to see much of which "time-orientated" organised tours don't allow
time for. Remember though that the Vietnam weather can be extremely hot - there is a cafe available or perhaps take sandwiches with you and some drinks and go to the far end of the site where you can sit under a pavilion for a while.
Hue Citadel's 10km perimeter wall has survived almost intact - it's most prominent feature is the Cot Co (Flag Tower) which has three squat brick terraces topped with a flag pole. Originally there were ten gates into the Citadel and entry today is across the moat and through Ngan Gate. On either side of Cot Co are nine huge cannon which are made of bronze and represent the four
seasons of the year and the five elements - the cannon were cast in 1803.
Cross a second moat to the entrance at Ngo Mon Gate which was constructed with massive stone slabs and on which rests an elaborate watch-tower (the Five Phoenix Watch-tower). The design of the Gate follows the principles of Feng Shue and has five entrance portals.
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The central portal was for the Emperor, either side of this were for the mandarins of the Royal Court and the two side gates were used for elephant access. ust in front of the Ngo Mon Gate are two square lakes - go between these on a path to reach the Thai Hoa Palace the interior of which is brightly coloured in red and gold lacquers. Hugely popular with tourists this is one of the main locations visited by tour groups and is really inundated with people to the extent is difficult to see very much. This was the Throne Palace where all major
ceremonies were held - such as coronations, royal birthdays and where important foreign dignitaries were received. Turning left from Ngo Mon Gate take a pleasant walk between walls and gardens to reach the Gateway to Hien Lam Coc (pavilion) which was built by Emperor Minh Mang in 1824.
The pavilion is a three-stored galleried building which has wooden facade. In front of the building sit nine bronze dynastic urns cast during the reign of Minh Mang (1791 - 1841) who ruled for two decades. The urns are all decorated with mountains, rivers, clouds, wildlife and other important images with each urn is dedicated to a specific emperor with Gia Long's in the middle.
Located on the opposite side of the courtyard is To Mieu Temple which was erected in 1822 once again by Minh Mang to worship his father - since then further altars have been added to honour the memories of other Nguyen Emperors. From here the path leads to the Hung Mieu - the temple is dedicated to Gia
Long's parents and is known for it's glazed carvings on the tiled roof - especially the large gargoyle-like stone dragon. As you wander around between the temples and buildings there are beautifully decorated gates and well kept gardens.
Walking on through one of these gates you arrive at an area where there are quite a few ruined buildings some of which are now being restored. This is a very interesting area and certainly not many tourists get this far which is a shame. At the far end there are various moats and lakes and even more fantastic gates
- also remnants of the Forbidden City can be seen including a restored pavilion and the Thai Binh which was the Royal Library (a heavily decorated two storey building set amongst bonsai gardens). Other buildings in this area of The Citadel include the Royal Mint and the Theatre.
Hue Imperial City
and Citadel is surrounded by an excellent moat and it's well worth spending an hour or so wandering round it - the area is paved and grassed and you get really good views of the walls, parapets and gateways. The water supply for the moat at Hue is provided from The Huong River (also known as The Perfume River)
Our items about Hue - things which can be easily done from the city.
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