Hue Imperial City, also called Hue Citadel is one of the most iconic places of interest in Hue. If you plan to visit this awesome area or wonder what makes it appealing to visitors, please keep reading to find out the detailed guide and the answers to your question.
Hue imperial city or Hue citadel is the residence of Vietnam’s last Royal Dynasty. Check this blog out for a detailed guide to this incredible attraction in Hue.
Hue Imperial City Overview
Hue used to be the capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty – the last Royal Dynasty of Vietnam for 143 years from 1802 to 1945. And Hue Citadel is the residence of the Nguyen Dynasty.
It is a walled enclosure built to protect the crucial palaces, temples, and the Purple Forbidden City where the Emperors and the Royal Families lived. Each of the four walls is 2 kilometers long, and there is also a wide moat on the outside.
Hue Imperial City is a part of the Complex of Hue Monuments which includes many other Royal Sites and Tombs such as Khai Dinh Tomb, Tu Duc Tomb, and Minh Mang Tomb.
It is a must-see attraction in Hue because of its magnificent architecture and historical value. Hue Imperial City is also the first UNESCO Heritage site in Vietnam.
Travel Guide Information
Visiting Hue Imperial City is a must when coming to Hue. Here is some essential information you need to know to have a wonderful visit to the Hue Citadel.
August 23rd Street, Thuan Thanh Ward, Hue City.
- In Summer: 6:30 AM – 5:30 PM
- In Winter: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Venue / Tourist Route||Adults||Children(aged: 7-12)|
|Hue Imperial City (including Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities)||200.000 VND (8.63 USD)||40.000 VND (1.73 USD)|
|Combo of 3 venues:
||420.000 VND (18.12 USD)||80.000 VND (3.45 USD)|
|Combo of 4 venues:
||530.000 VND (22.87 USD)||100.000 (4.31 USD)|
- The entrance ticket to Hue Imperial City includes the Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities.
- Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities address: 03 Le Truc Str, Phu Hau Ward, Hue City.
- The combos of 3 and 4 venues have 2-day validity.
- During Tet Holiday (Vietnamese New Year Holiday): Free entry
Since April 22nd, 2022, the Imperial City Night Quarter has officially been in operation. The quarter is right outside the Citadel, and it is a wonderful place to admire the beauty of Hue Imperial City at night.
Coming here, you can experience activities of street festivals, shop for Hue specialties, learn about cultural activities, and enjoy folk art and Hue cuisine.
Operating time: 07:00 PM – 11:00 PM, every Friday and Saturday;
Operation scope: On August 23rd, Le Huan, Dang Thai Than, and Doan Thi Diem Streets.
Hue Imperial City History
In 1802, Nguyen Anh ascended the throne and proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long. Under his reign, they officially constructed the Imperial City in 1805 and did not complete it until 1832, under Emperor Minh Mang – the second Emperor.
Based on Geomancy, they chose a propitious enormous area located in the North of the Perfume River to build the construction. Thousands of workers were ordered to construct the walled fortress and the moat.
The Hue Citadel is a residence of 13 Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. It is the witness to the prosperity of the last Royal Dynasty of Vietnam, and also its abolition.
Back then, Hue Citadel was a vast complex of exquisite buildings. Sadly, much of it has been destroyed due to wars, natural disasters, and time. From 1884 to 1947, it was severely damaged when Vietnam was invaded and colonized by the French.
Then in 1968, during the Tet Offensive (Tết Mậu Thân), the construction came under fire again. After being damaged by wars, only 10 significant sites out of 160 remained.
Despite the damage, UNESCO recognized Hue Imperial City as a Heritage Site in 1993. These days, the effort to restore and preserve the precious Citadel is still going on.
Hue Imperial City Architecture
Since it is a vast place, it is better to know about its structure and the location of different palaces and temples inside the Citadel. You will also learn about its outstanding architecture.
Hue Imperial City Structure
The Hue Imperial Citadel is a rectangular enclosure of 568m (1863 ft) wide and 640m (2099.2 ft) long. It is quite a large area so you’d better wear sneakers for easy moving.
In general, the Imperial City is divided into 6 main quarters. The first quarter including Noon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, and Can Chanh Palace is the most crucial one. It was the place where significant royal ceremonies took place.
The second quarter is the worshiping compound with five temples. It includes 2 areas on the left and the right of the Citadel. There, you can visit the temples worshiping the Emperors, Empresses, and the Nguyen Royal Family’s ancestors.
The Western Residence Compound is a private place for the Emperor’s mother and grandmother. Dien Tho residence in the quarter is also the largest artwork that remains in Hue Imperial City.
The Eastern Internal Affairs Compound is the place for royal factories and treasury. This place was used to make and store treasures and utensils for the Royal families.
The Royal Gardens Compound in the Northern area was the place for Emperors to relax, entertain, and educate princes. Once visiting, you will fall in love with the poetic scenery and gardens there.
The last quarter is the Forbidden Purple City where Emperors, their family members, court ladies, and eunuchs lived. Unfortunately, this is the most damaged area, and most of the buildings were destroyed.
The Outstanding Architecture of Hue Citadel
Now, it’s time to discover some major buildings’ architecture. The architectural system of the Imperial City followed well-proportioned principles.
The Noon Gate and Five-Phoenix Pavilion
The Noon Gate is the main gate of the Imperial City with five entrances. The central one was only for the Emperors. The luxurious Five-Phoenix Pavilion on the top of the gate is the main stage for royal ceremonies.
They call it Five-Phoenix Pavilion because it looks like 5 phoenix birds perching side by side. In fact, it is an architectural complex consisting of 9 pavilions connected. Its roof is delicately decorated. They decorate the edges with dragon shapes.
Thai Hoa Palace
Thai Hoa Palace (Supreme Harmony Palace) is the most important palace in the Imperial City. It was made with the “Trung Thiem Diep Oc” style, which means double-building. The crab-shaped structure acts as a connection between the front building and the main one.
The palace’s roof is well-known for its unique style. It consists of the upper roof, the lower roof, and the eaves. The craftsmen skillfully carved the dragon, sun, moon, and Heavenly Gourd shapes on the roof as symbols of the Emperor and Oriental Philosophy.
When you go inside the Palace, you can see the dragon and cloud patterns painted and lacquered on the ironwood columns. They represent the harmonious relationship between the Emperor and his subjects. In the center of the palace, the throne sits majestically.
Dien Tho Residence
In the Residence, Dien Tho Palace is the largest architecture. It is also made of double-building like Thai Hoa Palace. The furniture remains nearly the same and valuable.
Ta Truong Du is a house constructed on a rectangular lake, and half as large as the lake. It is located in the East of Dien Tho Palace. It has a wooden wall, windows, a railing, a flowery brick-tiled floor, and an elegantly carved interior.
Hien Lam Pavilion
The overall Hien Lam Pavilion is made of high-quality wood and has a 3-floored structure. The entire floor is tiled with Bat Trang tiles. From the front yard to the platform, there is a staircase of 9 steps of stone with dragon-shaped railings. The entrance in the middle was only for the Emperors.
Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theater
This structure was built during the reign of the Minh Mang Emperor so that the Emperors and other members of the Royal family can entertain and enjoy traditional art performances, including royal dance, theater, and court music.
The theater building was made of ironwood, with a height of 12m, including 2 floors. They carved the ceiling with the scene of the moon, the stars, and the sun. The outside’s patterns were dragons, phoenixes, and others. The square stage is in the middle of the theater.
How To Get To Hue Imperial City
Hue Imperial City is the biggest and most famous attraction in Hue City. It also lies near the city center. Thus, it is easy to get there. First, you can book Hue City Tour By Cyclo, which is a slow but fun way to discover Hue city. Or if you would like to try Hue cuisines, you can book our Hue Street Food Tour By Cyclo.
You can also consider renting a motorbike and ride yourself there. It will give you more freedom to explore Hue city.
However, if you are not familiar with riding motorbikes and the traffic in Vietnam, you can book Hue City Tour with Lady Bikers. In addition to the Imperial City, the bikers, also guides will show you around Hue city, and help you discover the best things to do in Hue.
Finally, you can take a taxi, this is a fast but the most expensive one. Depending on how far your departure is, the charge can vary.