Hue – an ancient citadel of Vietnam

Published:  04:29 Tuesday - December 28, 2010

“Poetic Hue, dreamy and romantic Hue, Hue - city of two World Heritages…” are the ever names people call Hue city - the latest imperial capital of Vietnam under Nguyen dynasty (from the 17th to 19th century).

Location

Hue is located in central Vietnam on the banks of Perfume River (SôngHương), just a few miles inland from the East Sea. It is about 700kilometers (438 miles) south of the national capital of Hanoi and about 1100 kilometers (690 miles) north of Hochiminh City.

History

Hue people take their pride in a long-lasting history. The city has gone through 7 centuries of establishment and development. In1802, Hue became Vietnam’s capital when Emperor Gia Long, the firstKing of the Nguyen emperors (Nguyen dynasty), chose the location forthe imperial city. The city remained the nation’s capital until 1945,when Bao Dai, the last of the Nguyen emperors, abdicated and acommunist government was established in Hanoi. In the Vietnam War,Huế's central position placed it very near the border between NorthVietnam and South Vietnam. Thanks to the long precious history, Hue has integrated material and spiritual values, which become its own unique special Culture.

Natural conditions

Thecity has 2 main seasons: dry season and rainy season. The former isfairly hot, lasting from March to August, while the latter begins fromAugust, and is cool and wet. But the most special point is the shortspring lasting from January till February, with a very cool and freshatmosphere and green purity of new tree leaves here and there. Thismeans if you would like to visit the city but still afraid of the hotor wet weather, please come in between January and February.

Culture

Imperial Citadel and & tomb Architecture

Hueis one of the main cultural, religious and educational centers ofVietnam. So far, Hue remains to be the only originally historicalvestiged city in Vietnam. Many of Hue’s attractions are found along thebanks of the romantically named Perfume River with 11km length. This valuable construction includes more than 100architectural works, which are the reflection of the life of Emperorsand mandarins under Nguyen’s reign.

Architecturein Hue is the combination of royal architect, folk, religious ones,tradtional and modern sides. On December 11th, 1993, it was classifiedby UNESCO as the world cultural heritage. On the north bank of theriver is the Imperial Citadel,built along the line of Peking’s Forbidden City, enclosed by 10-metrethick walls and surrounded by a moat. A few kilometers further up theriver are perhaps Hue’s best-known religious site. Inside the citadel,there are still wonders. For example, the seat of the Nguyen emperorsoccupying a large, walled area on the north side of the river. Insidethe citadel was a forbidden city where only the concubines, emperors,and those close enough to them were granted access, the punishment fortrespassing was death penalty.

Ifyou like something mysterious and valuably architectural, you shouldtake a visit to the tombs of ancient Kings. Situated in the middle ofthe hills on the Southern bank of Perfume River are very beautifultombs of Nguyen Kings. Among these tombs are the four famous ones withthe name and the arrangements of the tomb reflecting each Emperor’spoints of view, personality, and tastes. This is majestic Gia Longtomb, imposing Minh Mang tomb, poetic Tu Duc tomb and magnificent KhaiDinh tomb. No architects who would like to discover ancientarchitecture of Vietnam could ignore Hue’s old citadel vestiges.

Royal Music

Alot of foreign tourists are curious about Hue’s ritual royal music.Originated from 8 kinds of ritual music under Le dynasty, under Nguyendynasty, it has improved into 2 kinds of music: “Dai nhac” and “Nhanhac”, which are really magnificent, and skillful. Those are onlyplayed on formal occasions. This city is proud to be the cadral oftraditional music. The Royal Refined Music was proclaimed by UNESCO asa Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity onDecember 1993.

Religion

Hueis also an important center of Buddhism. In Hue and the surroundingsstill exists tens of pagodas constructed more than 300 years ago, and ahundred of temples and pagodas built in the early century. Thien Mu Pagoda, with its distinctive seven-storey octagonal tower.

Besides all these, Hue’s culture is also found in its famous “non la” or conical hats. You can buy these at the enormous Dong Ba Market as a remarkable and graceful piece of souvenir of Vietnam.A foreign friend of mine had a chance to meet a long-haired Hue’sVietnamese girl in the traditional violet long dress and a gracefulconical hat. And can you guess what happened? He fell in love with herat first sight, and they are now a very happy couple – husband andwife!! Vietnamese cultural grace could win any heart!

Festival and Cuisine

Festivalsare also attractions of Hue. There are two main kinds of festival here.Royal festival reflects the life and ritual activities of Nguyendynasty, almost paying more attention to the ritual than the ceremony.Folk festival consists of multi activities such as Hue Nam festival inHon Chen temple which follow Champa’s belief, handicraft’s fathermemory festivals, and some cultural activities as boat racing,westling,…

Thecuisine of Hue are rich, but one of the most striking differences isthe prominence of vegetarianism in the city. Several all-vegetarianrestaurants are scattered in various corners of the city to serve thelocals who have a strong tradition of eating vegetarian twice a month,as part of their Buddhist beliefs.

No one who has come to Hue could ignore its ancient beauty and romance. Taking a cruise along the Perfume River, having some special cuisine, and listening to Nha Nhac Royal Music, you can feel the actual picturesque view of this natural classical mysterious city!

Activities

  • Complex of the Temple for the Worship of the Nguyen Emperors (Thé Mieu)
  • Complex of the mausoleum of King Minh Mang
  • Complex of the Temple for the Worship of the Nine Nguyen Lords (Thai Mieu)
  • Complex of the tomb of the King Tu Duc
  • Complex of the Celestial Lady (Thien Mu)
  • Complex of the Palace of Audiences (Dien Can Chanh)
  • Chronological table of the monuments of Hue
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