Hue was the seat of power of the Nguyen Emperors who ruled Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, and their impressive Citadel remains partially intact today despite the ravages of several wars. Legacies of the city’s dynastic past are everywhere and keep visitors busy with visits to elaborate tombs and pagodas, mausoleums and assembly halls. Threaded along the beautiful Perfume River which flows through the city, the unique and extraordinary monuments serve as a guide to the lives of Vietnam’s last emperors.
The spectacular Citadel is built on the same principles and design as Beijing’s Forbidden Palace. The outer walls which can be between 10 to 21 meters thick enclose a vast compound of palaces, temples, meeting halls and pavilions, many of which are now sadly victims of war and the passage of time. The remaining buildings do however give ample clues to the grandeur and elegance that the walls once hid from commoners. The city is a traditional seat of culture and learning. Graduates of Hue’s education system include Vietnam’s famous general, Vo Nguyen Giap, and even Ho Chi Minh himself spent some time at Hue’s National School. At around 5 pm each weekday afternoon one of Vietnam’s most charming spectacles plays out as girls dressed in traditional, flowing “ao dai” dresses leave the university and cycle along the leafy road bordering the Perfume River.
In 1993, its complex of historical monuments earned Hue a place in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.