Hue is a must city to visit in Central Vietnam. It is rich in history and culture. If you are a history buff and a culture junkie like myself, this place is your cup of tea. Hue was once the ancient imperial city, back to the days, when Central Vietnam was ruled by emperor specifically the Nguyen Dynasty.
Since I stayed in Hoi-an, I joined the group tour for a day tour in Hue. We left Hoi-an around 8AM. On our way to Hoi-an, we pass the Hai Van Pass. Hai Van is a mountain road which takes you up and down, which has a panoramic view of the place. Most drivers, stop at the viewpoint of the Hai Van pass, you have a bird’s eye view of the place.
A must see in Hue
Visiting Hue without dropping at the Imperial Citadel, it means you have never been to Hue. This attraction is the magnet to the tourist. The citadel was where the Emperors reigned the country from 1805 until 1945. It is a walled fortress and equipped with ramparts that run for two kilometers on each side, and are surrounded by a moat. Inside the citadel, is another citadel where the emperor’s family stayed. Unfortunately, much of the citadel was devastated during the World War II, but restoration is ongoing now.
Ngo Mon Gate
This is a colossal structure that greets you the moment you enter the citadel. This serves as the viewing point of the royal families during ceremonies.
The flag tower
Opposite the Ngo Mon Gate is the flag tower. This was built during the reign of Gia Long.
Palace of Supreme Harmony
Directly in line with the Ngo Mon Gate on the Hue Citadel’s central axis, The Throne Palace may be reached when walking 330 feet across a bridge called the Trung Dao (Central Path) that crosses a pool called the Thai Dich (Grand Liquid Lake)
Immediately when crossing the bridge, you’ll step onto the nice Rites Court, wherever mandarins assembled to pay court to the emperor. The lower part, further away from the Throne Palace, was reserved for village elders and lower ministers. The upper half the court was reserved for superior mandarins.
Palace of Supreme Harmony was the nerve center for the Emperor’s court during its prime. constructed in 1805 by Emperor Gia Long, the Throne Palace was open to the public in 1806 for the emperor’s installation.
Over the years, the Throne Palace became the preferred setting for the Empire’s most significant ceremonies, just like the Coronations of Emperors and Crown Princes, and receiving foreign ambassadors. High meetings of the state were additionally conducted at the Throne Palace.
The Throne Palace was designed to accommodate such elegance: the building’s measurement is one hundred forty-four feet long, a hundred feet wide, and thirty-eight feet tall, supported by lacquered-red columns coiled and ornate with dragons. Over the throne hangs an inscribed board bearing Chinese characters reading “Palace of Supreme Harmony”.
The Royal Reading Room
The Royal Reading Room Thai Binh Lau was first conceived by Emperor Thieu Tri between 1841 and 1847. The Emperor Khai Dinh later rehabilitated the temple in 1921, through the tourism authorities persisting rehabilitation efforts in the early 1990s. During those days, when the Emperors retired, he stayed in Thai Binh Lau to scan books and write letters.
Dien Tho Palace
It was constructed in 1804 for the Queen Mother’s home and audience hall, the importance of the building grew in proportion with the Queen Mother’s growing influence in Vietnamese affairs. The palace was partly broken throughout the wars of the 20th century. However full-swing renovation had undergone between 1998 and 2001.
It was built in 1825, and after the abolishment of the monarchy, it was overlooked by the Vietnamese. In 1996 it was restored by the tourism authority and has been added to Hue College of Art. It recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage.
Tomb of Khai Dinh
This burial place is extremely spectacular. Emperor Khai Dinh used to work with the French government and traveled to European countries. It is very evident and obvious that his burial place is heavily influenced by European design. The grave was constructed on the side of the mountain. it is a five-tier sepulcher, the doorway is facing the road, You need to take the steps to reach the first-tier. Upon reaching the first-tier, honour guards greeted you, standing each side.
I took the stairs until I reached the fifth tier, where the Khai Dinh Palace is situated. The statue of the Emperor, who is sitting on the throne can be seen in the fifth tier. The walls and the ceilings are adorned with ceramic mosaic.
Thien Mu Pagoda
The Thien Mu Pagoda (also called the Linh Mu Pagoda) is considered as a historical pagoda nestled at the banks of the Perfume River in the historical city of Hue. The pagoda’s name translated in English as “Heavenly Lady”, referring to a legendary story that an old woman had appeared on the hill, telling the locals about a Lord who would construct a pagoda on that very site.
When the governor of Hue heard the story of the legendary story. He is determined to fulfill the prophecy himself. He initiated the creation of Thien Mu pagoda. At that very time, it was just a plain and simple pagoda. It was improved by his successors.
Most Buddhist followers wanted to see the old car that was used by the well-revered monk Quang Duc in driving to Saigon in 1963. He came out from his car and do the cross-legged position while sitting on the ground and meditated while his fellow monks pour in petrol and set the fire. He did this as a sign of disagreement against the anti-Buddhist regime. This story has reached across the globe because the monk’s heart was not burned.
Phuoc Duyen Tower is the most striking structure in the Thien Mu Pagoda. It is an octagonal seven-level pagoda, standing on the hill, the tower is visible from a distance. This seven-level pagoda is dedicated to Buddha who appeared in human form.