Hue Imperial City: Unesco World Heritage in Hue

hue imperial city

Hue Imperial City, one of the Complex of Hue Monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the city of Hue in central Vietnam. Hue was founded as the Vietnam capital city by Gia Long, the first king of the Nguyen Dynasty in 1802. It held this position for nine Nguyen dynasties until 1945.

hue imperial city

The massive complex features hundreds of monuments and ruins, such as the Forbidden Purple City, once the residence of the royal family and badly damaged during the Vietnam War, the Imperial City, royal tombs, flag tower, pagodas, temples, a library and museum. Here, Vietnam Shore Excursions would like to share some useful information about Hue Imperial City.

Hue Imperial City History

Visiting the Imperial City Hue, you will surely be surprised at how well this site has been preserved for almost 200 years. It took up to 27 years from 1805 to 1832 and has gone through 2 Kings’ reign (Gia Long King and Minh Mang King) to finish this building.

It will not be exaggerating to say that this is the most gigantic architectural structure in Vietnam during the late modern period. To build it, thousands of workers were hired, millions of cubic meters of rock were used in the construction process. There are plenty of tasks done by these workers, including digging trenches, filling rivers, immigrating, moving graves, and building walls.

Hue Imperial City - Vietnam Shore Excursions

The location for this Imperial City of Hue was chosen by Gia Long King. After becoming the King, he found a proper place to build his palace. At this time, this was a huge land on the north bank of Huong River (or so-called Perfume River). This place is now the Imperial City. The Imperial Enclosure was decided to put behind 100-meter-high Ngu Binh Mountain. The mountain has a flat top, beautiful shape, becoming the natural partition for this citadel. The 2 sides of the mountain are called Hen hillock and Da Vien hillock. While Hen represents the Green Dragon, Da Vien is the symbol of White Tiger. They are believed to show the King’s great power.

Structure of The Imperial Hue City

The first thing you can see is the giant wall of the Imperial Hue City which stretches 10 kilometers with a height of 6.6 meters and the thickness of 21 meters. The wall was first built by mud under Gia Long King and then was changed into bricks at the end of his reign.

Surrounding this wall, you will find a system of trench, used for dependence. To enter the site, you can choose to go through one of its 10 gates including Chinh Dong, Chinh Nam, Chinh Tay, Chinh Bac, Tay Bac, Tay Nam, The Nhon, Quang Duc, and Dong Nam gates. The Imperial Enclosures comprises the Imperial City and Purple Forbidden city.

Hue Imperial City by Night - Vietnam Shore Excursions

The Imperial City plays an important role in protecting the most vital places. There are 4 gates, of which Ngo Mon (or Meridian Gate) is known as the main gate. Not only this part but also all the system of the palace was built in axisymmetric style with special constructions for the Kings placed in the center. Other buildings belonging to the Imperial city strictly followed the rules: constructions for men were on the left and for women on the right.

Here, you will easily realize that all buildings were put close to nature like gardens, lakes, shady trees, and stone bridges. The materials used for the construction process were all high quality. For example, colorful floor tiles were made in Bat Trang the most famous pottery making village in Vietnam.

Purple Forbidden City used to be the private area for only the Kings as well as the royal. Purple Forbidden City is also called Tu Cam Thanh in Vietnamese. The name means the residents were not allowed to freely enter this place. This place is divided into many different areas with up to 50 works in different sizes. Inside the Purple Forbidden City, there is a palace called Can Chanh for the Kings to work. Can Chanh is in front of Noi Dinh, the place for Kings to eat and do different recreational activities. The Kings lived in Can Thanh which has a yard and a beautiful lake. Wives of the Kings stayed in a palace called Khon Thai.

Imperial City Hue - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Imperial City Hue Opening Hours

Hue Imperial City is so massive that you can spend half a day discovering it. Therefore, you can visit this place from 7 a.m to 5 p.m. It opens every day even during the Lunar New Year.

Imperial City Hue Entrance Fee

Entrance to the Royal Enclosure in the Hue Imperial City costs 200,000 Dong for foreigners (2023). A combination ticket costing 420,000 Dong gives entrance to the Imperial City plus 2 tombs (which cost between 100,000 and 150,000 Dong each) within 48 hours. It is also very nice to visit the imperial city at night. So you should not miss this palce when you are traveling to Hue City.

Imperial City of Hue - Vietnam Shore Excursions

What to see at Hue Imperial City?

Noon Gate

It is the iconic symbol of the formal Royal City. It was the main gate to enter the Royal city. The Noon Gate Hue was the last monument built in 1833 with 5 entrances. Specifically, the central gate and yellow door were only for the emperor. On the right for civil mandarins and on the left for military mandarins.

On two wings, there are 2 more gates for soldiers, horses, and elephants. Interestingly, it is a U-shaped building made of huge wooden doors, stone foundations, and brick.

Noon Gate in Hue Imperial City - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Ngu Phung Palace (Five Phoenix Pavilion)

On the Noon Gate is the Ngu Phung palace. This special building consists of 100 columns, its roofs are tiled in the yin-yang style. Remarkably, the yellow royal tiles are only for the emperor, and the green royal tiles were roofed for the mandarins and royalties. The decoration topic is dragons, the symbol of the power of the emperor. To be specific, the palace had been used as a stage for major royal ceremonies.

This special construction, which is the most powerful symbol of the Nguyen Dynasty, is the historic witness of a lot of battles, especially the Tet Mau Than Offensive in 1968. Nowadays, thanks to the gifted craftwork and enthusiastic support, it appears stunning with a new appearance.

Five Phoenix Pavilion in Hue Imperial City - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Thai Hoa Palace (Supreme Harmony Palace)

In this most important palace, only twice a month, following the Lunar calendar, the Emperor worked inside with the 4 highest-ranking mandarins, other mandarins were in the royal courtyard, entering inside to do business with the emperor. Thai Hoa Palace was only used for some special ceremonies such as the coronation of 13 Emperors, the Emperor’s birthday, and significant meetings with envoys from other countries.

Even though it was under renovation, and large-scale reconstruction, it remains its main historic beauty. Distinctively, the palace’s roof is famous for its unique style. It comprises the upper roof, the lower one, and the eaves. On a closer look, at the roof, there are many dragons, suns, and moon images. Honestly, they symbolize the emperor and Oriental philosophy.

Thai Hoa Palace in Hue Imperial City - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theater

Under the reign of the Gia Long Emperor, they constructed this building for Emperors and royal family members to entertain and enjoy conventional art performances, especially royal dance, dramas, and royal court music.

Furthermore, Duyet Thi Duong theater is the place for royal banquets and nowadays, for special festivals, this theater is the venue to display Hue Royal Court music, which is a Unesco world Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible heritage.

Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theater - Vietnam Shore Excursions

The To Temple (The Royal Family Temple)

It was constructed in 1821 by Minh Mang Emperor in order to worship Emperor Gia Long, the founder of the Nguyen dynasty. Lately, they worship most Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. 3 deposed Emperors such as Duc Duc, Hiep Hoa, and Bao Dai are not allowed to be worshiped. In the past, women could not enter.

Royal Family Temple - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Cung Dien Tho

It was the private residence area of the emperor’s mother and grandmother. It is the most massive building which is kept intact nowadays. This construction consists of over 10 buildings that were covered with rectangular-shaped walls.

The buildings in this place were connected with a roofed corridor system. Every day, the emperor walked in this corridor to visit his mom.

In April and June, there are many colorful festivals such as Kite or Ao Dai festivals, and both of them attract a huge number of foreign and domestic visitors. Therefore, if you come here on these special occasions, you might experience many interesting cultural activities.

Dien Tho Palace - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Amazing activities in Hue imperial city

If tourists wish to be the emperor, prince, or princess in the modern time, their desire can be true when they come to Hue historic citadel. In this ancient place, they have the chance to put on Imperial clothes to take photos.

Additionally, the journey is pretty long and tourists may feel tired on boiling days, you can take the electric golf cars with 8 seats to help reduce their exhaust at affordable prices. Moreover, there are some royal music performances in the royal city that you can enjoy for free.

With a group of 8 people, you will get a free souvenir photo from the local photographers in the citadel. These days, you can get the audio guide service with multi-languages so you can easily enjoy and spend your time in Hue Imperial city as much as you like.

Hue Vietnam Imperial City - Vietnam Shore Excursions

Moreover, you should visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Duc Tomb and Khai Dinh Tomb with a boat trip on Perfume River Hue if you want have a day trip in Hue.

Hue Imperial City map

How to get to Hue Imperial City?

You can get to Hue Imperial City by different ways, such as walking, booking grab bikes, or catching a cyclo. Another way to enjoy a sense of authentic experience and deeply understand is with a knowledgeable local tour guide, let’s join Hue imperial city guides: Hue City Private Tour, Hue Private Tour Half Day, Hue Shore Excursions or Hue Tour from Da Nang for any customers who are staying in Da Nang and want to do a day trip to Hue Imperial City.

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David Nguyen - Vietnam Travel Expert

Mr. David Nguyen is a travel expert and as a seasoned traveler he has the inside track on the most memorable adventures which will help you to have unforgettable memories and wonderful experiences to better your Vietnam Holiday!

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