Imperial City of Huế

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The aerial view of the Imperial City in Hue 11-9-1932 during the feast in honor of the takeover of Emperor Bảo Đại
Imperial City of Huế
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Citadel Hue.jpg
LocationHuế, Vietnam
Part of"Citadel of Huế, including Imperial City, Purple Forbidden City, Royal Canal, Museum of Huế, National University, Lake of the Serene Heart" part of Complex of Huế Monuments
CriteriaCultural: (iv)
Inscription1993 (17th session)
Coordinates16°28′11″N 107°34′40″E / 16.46972°N 107.57778°E / 16.46972; 107.57778Coordinates: 16°28′11″N 107°34′40″E / 16.46972°N 107.57778°E / 16.46972; 107.57778
Imperial City of Huế is located in Vietnam
Imperial City of Huế
Location of Imperial City of Huế in Vietnam

The Imperial City (Vietnamese: Hoàng thành) is a walled enclosure within the citadel (Kinh thành) of the city of Huế, the former imperial capital of Vietnam.


The citadel's plan in the Đại Nam nhất thống chí. The diagram is oriented with south at the top
Enthronement of Emperor Bảo Đại in the Imperial City in 1926 with the King's palanquin escorted from Hall of Diligent Governance (Điện Cần Chánh) to the Throne Hall

In June 1789 Nguyễn Ánh ascended the throne of a unified Vietnam and proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long with Hue, the ancestral seat of the Nguyen Lords as the capital. Geomancers were consulted as to the propitious location site for the new city and construction began in 1804. Thousands of workers were ordered to build the walled citadel and ringing moat, measuring some 10 kilometers long. The original earthwork was later reinforced and faced with brick and stone resulting in two meter-thick ramparts.[1]

The citadel was oriented to face the Huong River (Perfume River) to the southeast. This differs from Beijing's Forbidden City in which faces true south. Rather than concentric rings, centered on the Emperor's palace, the imperial residence itself is offset toward the southeast side of the citadel, nearer the river. A second set of tall walls and a second moat was constructed around this Imperial City, within which many edifices were added in a series of gated courtyards, gardens, pavilions and palaces. The entire complex was the seat of power until the imposition of the French protectorate in the 1880s. Thereafter it existed mostly to carry on symbolic traditions until the Nguyễn dynasty was ousted in 1945, with the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. At the time, the Purple Forbidden City had many buildings and hundreds of rooms. Once vacated it suffered from neglect, termite ravages, and inclement weather including a number of cyclones. Nonetheless the Imperial City was an impressive sight. Most destructive were man-made crises as evidenced in the bullet holes still visible from the military conflicts of the 20th century.[1]

Major losses occurred in 1947 when the Việt Minh seized the Citadel in February. The French led counter-attack laid siege and the six-week ensuing battle destroyed many of the major structures. The core of the city including the Imperial Palace was burned.[2]

The Citadel came under fire again in the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, as part of the Tet Offensive a Division-sized force of People's Army of Vietnam and Viet Cong soldiers launched a coordinated attack on Huế seizing most of the city. During the initial phases of the Battle of Huế, due to Huế's religious and cultural status, U.S. troops were ordered not to bomb or shell the city, for fear of destroying the historic structures; but as casualties mounted in house-to-house fighting these restrictions were progressively lifted and the fighting caused substantial damage to the Imperial City.[3] Viet Cong troops occupied some portions of the citadel while South Vietnamese troops occupied others; and allied warplanes targeted the anti-aircraft guns the communists has mounted on the citadel's outer towers[4] Out of 160 buildings only 10 major sites remain because of the battle, such as the Thái Hòa and Cần Thanh temples, Thế Miếu, and Hiển Lâm Các. The city was made a UNESCO site in 1993. The buildings that still remain are being restored and preserved. The latest, and so far largest, restoration project is planned to conclude in 2015.[5]


Flag Tower of the citadel
Gate of Manifest Benevolence (Cửa Hiển Nhơn)
Throne in the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Điện Thái Hòa)

The grounds of the Imperial City are protected by fortified ramparts 2 kilometers by 2 kilometers, and ringed by a moat. The water in the moat is routed from the Perfume River through a series of sluice gates. This enclosure is the citadel (Kinh thành).

Inside the citadel is the Imperial City (Hoàng thành), with a perimeter wall some 2.5 kilometers in length.

Within the Imperial City is the Purple Forbidden City (Tử cấm thành), a term identical to the Forbidden City in Beijing. Access to the innermost enclosure was restricted to the imperial family.[citation needed]

Imperial City gates[edit]

  • Cửa Đông Nam (Southeast Gate), also called cửa Thượng Tứ
  • Cửa Chính Đông (East Gate) also called cửa Đông Ba
  • Cửa Đông Bắc (Northeast Gate) also called cửa Trài or cửa Mang Cá nhỏ
  • Cửa Chính Bắc (North Gate), also known as cửa Hậu or cửa Mang Cá lớn
  • Cửa Tây (West Gate)
  • Cửa Thể Nhân, popularly called cửa Ngăn

Purple Forbidden City main gates[edit]

  • Cửa Ngọ Môn (south)
  • Cửa Hòa Bình (north)
  • Cửa Chương Đức (west)
  • Cửa Hiển Nhơn (east)

Outer Court[edit]

  • Điện Thái Hòa
  • Điện Phụng Tiên
  • Cung Trường Sanh
  • Cung Diên Thọ

Temples and places of worship[edit]

Pavilion of Splendour (Hiển Lâm Các)
Pleasure garden in the residence of the imperial queen-mother. Hòn Non Bộ is installed in the lake
  • Triệu Miếu
  • Thái Miếu
  • Hưng Miếu
  • Thế Miếu
  • Điện Phụng Tiên
  • Hiển Lâm Các

Inner Court[edit]

  • Đại Cung môn
  • Tả vu, Hữu vu
  • Điện Cần Chánh
  • Điện Võ Hiển
  • Điện Văn Minh
  • Điện Trinh Minh
  • Điện Quang Minh
  • Điện Càn Thành
  • Điện Khôn Thái
  • Viện Thuận Huy
  • Viện Dưỡng Tâm
  • Ngự Tiền Văn phòng
  • Lục Viện
  • Điện Minh Thận


  • Vườn Ngự Uyển


  • Lầu Kiến Trung
  • Thái Bình Lâu

Visiting hours[edit]

The Imperial City is open to the general public for viewing,[6] . Overseas visitors are required to pay an entry fee of 200,000 VND per person to enter.

Day Hours accessible to public
Monday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Tuesday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Wednesday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Thursday 8 am – 10 pm
Friday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Sunday 8 am – 5:30 pm

Tourist Information[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Citadel".
  2. ^ Perlez, Jane (February 16, 2004). "Hue Journal; Vietnam Slowly Restores Imperial City With a Grim Past" – via
  3. ^ Shulimson, Jack; LtCol. Leonard Blasiol; Charles R. Smith; Capt. David A. Dawson (1997). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: 1968, the Defining Year. History and Museums Division, USMC. p. 205. ISBN 0-16-049125-8. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Vietnam to spend 61 million dollars to restore Hue royal citadel. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  6. ^ "Imperial City". Retrieved 2017-08-02.

External links[edit]