The Hue Imperial Citadel is a historical complex located in Hue, Vietnam. It served as the political and imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last ruling dynasty of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. The Hue Imperial Citadel is a remarkable testament to Vietnam’s imperial history which is an abundant cultural treasure and holds great significance for the Vietnamese people as a symbol of national unity and pride. 

With the purpose of helping visitors find information about Hue Imperial Citadel. In this article, we will take a closer look at the beauty and highlight some attractions in Hue for you to consult and plan with your friends and family.

hue city private tour
Hue Imperial Citadel – best things to see in Hue

Hue Imperial Citadel – A Visual Odyssey Of Vietnam’s Rich Heritage

1. Architectural Marvels: The Citadel’s Layout and Design

1.1 The Citadel’s Layout

Hue Imperial Citadel is a unique construction work of the Nguyen Dynasty and was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage in 1993 by UNESCO. This is a magnificent palatial complex that was built according to Western architecture combined with Eastern architecture.

Surrounding the Citadel is the intricate canal system which is not only a protective barrier but also a waterway with over 7 kilometers of length. Hue Citadel Palace was built in spatial layers, there were many large and small buildings inside, all of these buildings along a main highway in the southeast-northwest direction.

hue imperial layout
Hue imperial layout

1.2 The Citadel’s Design

Hue Imperial City is divided into three main sections: the Citadel, the Imperial Enclosure, and the Forbidden Purple City.  

The Citadel- the outermost section of Hue Imperial Palace which consists of a square wall system of 140 structures such as bastions and gates. With walls 6 meters high, 21 meters thick, and nearly 10 kilometers in circumference, it serves as a defensive barrier. Despite its moss-covered appearance, the citadel maintains its original appearance and historical integrity.

The Imperial Enclosure is also known as the Imperial Palace which is the most important area of the Citadel Complex and located in the center of Hue Imperial City. It has a square shape of more than 600 m on each side, protected by a surrounding moat system. This is one of the remaining architectural works that is almost undamaged, carrying many outstanding values related to culture, planning, architecture, and fine arts.

The Forbidden Purple City is the innermost layer of the construction of the Hue Citadel which was built in a rectangular shape. This place was the private residence of the emperor and was inaccessible to the public.

Other notable structures within the Hue Imperial City include the Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Dien Tho Palace, Can Chanh Palace, and Tu Duc Tomb. Each of these buildings showcases the elaborate design, and craftsmanship, and shows the inheritance in traditional Vietnamese architecture.

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Hue Imperial design

2. Hue Imperial City History

The Hue Imperial City has a long history and is of vital importance to the last Vietnamese royal house of the Nguyen Dynasty. This place is the center of politics, culture, and religion for this period. And proud of its architectural treasures, UNESCO has described it as an “outstanding example of an eastern feudal capital”. Hue Imperial City History began construction between 1804 and lasted for 27 years by the Nguyen Dynasty. The citadel was oriented to face the Huong River to the southeast. The entire complex was the seat of King power until the French protectorate in the 1880s. It existed primarily to perpetuate symbolic traditions until the Nguyen dynasty was overthrown in 1945, the Proclamation of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The abdication ceremony of Emperor Bao Dai took place in the Imperial City on August 30, 1945.

Hue Imperial City History
Hue Imperial City History

3. Hue Imperial City map

The Hue Imperial City is known as the Citadel, and is located in Hue, Vietnam. You can find it on Google Maps by key words “Hue Imperial City” or “Hue Citadel“, it will show you how to get there.

Hue Imperial City map
Hue Imperial City map

4. The Forbidden Purple City

The Forbidden Purple City is the innermost citadel, located inside the Imperial Citadel which was once the residence of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945. This place was a private complex of buildings for the ruling Emperor, his family, and court ladies. 

There are many houses such as palaces, temples, and other royal structures. Visitors can explore the different sections of the Forbidden Purple City, such as the Great Enclosure, the Imperial Enclosure, and the Temple Area. Some of the outstanding attractions within the complex include the Thai Hoa Palace, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the To Mieu Temple. These structures showcase intricate designs, vibrant colors, and a rich history.

Hue Imperial City
The Forbidden Purple City

5. Citadel Festivals and Events

Hue Imperial City is the place where many traditional festivals take place. There are a lot of rituals that have been recreated and successfully restored, such as the Thuong Neu ceremony, changing of the guard, dances, etc. This movement and ritual that was performed and recreated attracts many tourists.

Furthermore, tourists can enjoy ancient dances, and many ancient opera excerpts, especially Royal Court Music. Royal court music formed and developed in stages through the Ly-Tran dynasties. During the Nguyen Dynasty, Royal Court Music was inherited and developed brilliantly. Over hundreds of years, Royal Court Music has been handed down and preserved in forms such as orchestras, songs, songs, dances… performed in diplomatic ceremonies, and performances to serve tourists during holidays, Tet, Festivals, festivals…

hue imperial festival
Hue imperial festival

6. Royal Cuisine: Tasting History Within the Citadel

6.1 Tasting Royal Hue Cuisine

Tasting Royal Hue Cuisine is an interesting experience that allows you to try some flavors and traditional food in the Imperial Capital of Vietnam, Hue. The cuisine of Hue is renowned for its sophistication, use of fresh ingredients, and beautiful decoration.

Royal Hue Cuisine
Royal Hue Cuisine

6.2 Hue royal Lotus Rice

Hue royal lotus rice is one of the traditional dishes of Hue cuisine. This dish is decorated in the style of royal cuisine, which is modeled on the shape  of a beautiful blooming lotus. The ingredients are fragrant rice, lotus seeds, spring rolls, fried eggs, chicken, shrimp, vegetable, ect. All wrapped in lotus leaves imbued with the cool scent of lotus flowers.

6.3 Longan Lotus seed Tea

Longan lotus seed tea is considered the most delicious dish of Hue royal cuisine although it only includes 3 main ingredients: lotus seeds, longan and granulated sugar. It has a pleasant smell and sweetness, creating a relaxation effect. This tea was a favorite summer dessert of kings at that time, and today you can enjoy this dish anywhere.

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Lotus seed Tea

6.4 Hue Royal Tea

Hue royal tea was originally served in the royal court of the Nguyen Dynasty. Nowadays, with precious herbs and delicious taste, many people use this tea for better health. This tea is suitable for all ages, so it is very suitable as a souvenir for your family.

6.5 Hue Beef Noodle Soup

Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup) is one of  the most famous dishes from Hue. It features a flavorful broth made from beef bones and lemongrass, served with vermicelli noodles, slices of beef, pork hock, and various herbs.

bun bo hue
Hue Beef Noodle Soup

6.6 Com Hen (Clam Rice)

Com Hen (Clam Rice)  is a dish made with tiny clams, rice, and various herbs and vegetables. It’s typically served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, chili, and lemon.

7. Hue Imperial city tour

Hue is not only famous for the majestic Imperial Citadel but also many ancient architectural works and mausoleums of the king such as Khai Dinh, Minh Mang, Tu Duc… and magnificent and sacred pagodas such as Thien Mu Pagoda.Discover the secrets of Vietnam’s past with local guides  knowledgeable about history and enjoy famous local cuisine.  Here, you will enjoy Hue city full day tour with a local guide who company with you go to anywhere.

hue city tour local guide
Experience Hue Imperial Citadel with tour Hue city tour

8. Entrance of Hue Imperial Citadel

The entrance to the Hue Imperial Citadel is an impressive gateway that leads visitors into the Imperial Places. The entrance is known as the “Ngo Mon Gate,” which is also called the “Noon Gate” because of its unique design.
The Ngo Mon Gate is known as the main entrance to the Hue Imperial Citadel. It’s a grand, multi-tiered gatehouse that stands as a symbol of the Nguyen Dynasty’s imperial power. The gate is a remarkable example of Vietnamese traditional architecture. At the entrance, you’ll find ticket booths and visitor information centers where you can purchase tickets, obtain maps, and learn more about the historical significance of the citadel.

hue imperial citadel
Ngo Mon Gate

9. Things to see at Hue Imperial Citadel

The ancient Imperial Capital of Hue is a large and historically significant complex that offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s Imperial past. This Imperial Citadel is one of the most famous tourist destinations in this ancient capital that you should not miss when coming to Hue.

Ngo Mon Gate (Noon Gate) is the main gate and a symbol of Hue city is located south of the Citadel. It looks like a luxurious castle that brings beauty harmonious with nature. 

Thai Hoa Palace (Hall of Supreme Harmony) is a magnificent hall where important ceremonies are held, including carnations and official receptions. Come here, visitors have opportunities to admire the elaborate wooden architecture and the royal throne.

Within the Imperial Enclosure, the Forbidden Purple City was the private residence of the Nguyen emperors and their families. Although it was almost damaged during the Vietnam War, there are still buildings and courtyards to explore.

The Museum of Royal Antiquities is another place that is also located within the Imperial Enclosure. This museum is a collection of imperial artifacts such as clothing, jewelry, ceramics,… Visitors can have valuable insights into the royal lifestyle.

Throughout the citadel, you will find various temples and shrines dedicated to ancestors and gods. These structures are often beautifully decorated with intricate ornaments.

Exploring the Imperial Citadel of Hue is like stepping back in time to an era of imperial grandeur and cultural significance. When you walk around the historic halls, courtyards, and gardens, you will gain a deeper insight into Vietnam’s rich historical and architectural heritage.

hue imperial festival
Hue imperial festival

Hue Imperial Citadel is also a historical architecture that demonstrates the existence and decline of Vietnam’s last feudal dynasty. When you come here, you will not only be amazed by the beauty of the architectural works but also participate in many interesting cultural experiences. If you plan to visit this place in the near future, quickly save the useful information suggested by VM Travel above.