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Vietnam: 24~Two stabs at Hue’s Imperial City

Now I’ll finally string together the last couple of posts from my 2009 trip to Vietnam.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After returning from the DMZ tour I had the afternoon to explore Hue before heading south the next day. Half a day wasn’t much but the only thing I wanted to do was return to the old walled city.

The map I used showing relative locations of the citadel and my hotel

The map I used showing relative locations of the citadel and my hotel

First stab

When I first arrived in Hue a couple of days before, I did a recce over to the citadel.

Sunset over the Perfume River

Sunset over the Perfume River

Hue from the Trang Tien bridge

Hue from the Trang Tien bridge

Crossing the moat to enter the citadel

Crossing the moat to enter the citadel

The citadel is a city within a city within a city; essentially a walled fortress. It was used from the early 1800s to mid 1900s when the Nguyen family ruled Vietnam. During this time, Hue was regarded as the capital city.

The last Emperor abdicated in 1945 and Vietnam then entered into many years of war with France initially, the USA (and others) later, and of course with itself.

The flag tower from inside the citadel walls

The flag tower from inside the citadel walls

It was far too late in the day to go inside so I decided I may as well just go for a walk around the citadel. I may not have embarked on this If I’d done my homework.

Across the moat a building peeks over the wall

Across the moat a building peeks over the wall

The citadel walls are so long (about 2km each side) that the sun had well and truly set by the time I finished

The citadel walls are so long (about 2km each side) that the sun had well and truly set by the time I finished

The Trang Tien bridge is eye-catching both day and night

A bonus of my night time wanderings was seeing the bridge illuminations

At least temperature wise it was the right time of day for a long walk.

Second stab

Fast forward two days. Traipsing through a large walled complex is not an activity to be undertaken in the hottest part of the day, particularly if you add on the half hour walk each way. But of course that’s what happened.

The flag tower again. I love a good symmetrical layout

The flag tower again. I love a good symmetrical layout

Ngo Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial City

Ngo Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial City

It struck me as odd that there were no guidebooks available to purchase. As a result I didn’t really know what I was looking at (some of the captions I researched for this post) and I guarantee I didn’t see all there was to see.

Gate to Thai Hoa Palace, "Palace of Supreme Harmony"

Gate to Thai Hoa Palace, “Palace of Supreme Harmony”

Thai Hoa Palace was an important ceremonial venue

Thai Hoa Palace was an important ceremonial venue

Interior of the Thai Hoa Palace

Interior of the Thai Hoa Palace

And hot! It was stifling. A bit on the warm side.

A stunning wall feature

A stunning wall feature

More beautiful design detail

More beautiful design detail

Inner walls marking boundaries between the inner zones

Inner walls marking boundaries between the inner zones. The Imperial City perimeter is about 2.5km long

In 1968 the Battle of Hue saw most of the city destroyed as the USA and South Vietnamese (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) recaptured Hue from the North Vietnamese Army. The citadel faired poorly with bombs and napalm dropped directly on it, and only a few out of the 160 structures survived.

One of the Purple Forbidden City gates

One of the Purple Forbidden City gates, gold dragon in the distance

The Royal Reading Room inside the Purple Forbidden City, one of only a few buildings to remain undamaged from the Vietnam-American War

The Royal Reading Room inside the Purple Forbidden City, one of only a few buildings to remain undamaged

How old is that tree I wonder?

How old is that tree I wonder?

A wall inside the Purple Forbidden City with a peek through to one of the areas under renovation

A crumbling wall with a peek through to one of the areas under renovation

Lotus pond

Lotus pond

Decaying steps and walkway

Decaying steps and walkway

Not much to look at now but I'd love to know what these barren spaces were like back in the day

Not much to look at now but I’d love to know what these barren spaces were like back in the day

I can’t remember if I left when I felt I had seen it all, or seen enough. Or maybe I was just hungry. Whatever the reason I walked back to my side of town.

Looking west along the Perfume River from the Phu Xuan bridge

Looking west along the Perfume River from the Phu Xuan bridge

Near drenched through from heat and humidity, my transformation was complete when I got caught in the afternoon downpour.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow, Hayley….this makes me want to visit Vietnam even more now! Thanks for posting this.

    8 April 2013
    • Aren’t you lovely – thanks Steph.

      8 April 2013
      • Tim Reich #

        I truly enjoy reading about your travels,especially Vietnam…

        3 March 2016
        • Hi Tim and thanks, very much appreciated!

          3 March 2016

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