VIETNAM | Dazed & Confused at the Imperial Citadel of Hue | Lakad Pilipinas

Imperial Citadel Hue Vietnam

We walked the same path leading to the Imperial Citadel of Hue, the same one we trodded on twelve hours ago. The difference was, it was fully dark then—the former imperial capital of Vietnam, its red walls shining bright like a gem against a darkened sky. Now, with a background of gray brooding skies, it looked drab and lifeless. But we really didn’t have much of a choice, we can’t wait for bright blue skies and sunshine with less than a day left in Hue.

Imperial Citadel Hue Vietnam Flag
THE CITADEL FLAG TOWER IN HUE

Waking early from Flora Hotel Hue, we hailed a cab that took us straight to the ancient Imperial City. It was about thirty minutes away by foot, definitely walkable, but we were chasing time. We exit out of Hue towards Hanoi that same afternoon.

CROSSING THE PERFUME RIVER

We were soon jostling for road space with motorcycles, crossing the Perfume River via the Truong Trien Bridge—which looked really fantastic at night—and faced the same gate we entered the previous evening, sans the fantastic lights.

Imperial Citadel Hue Vietnam Moat
THE THAI HOA PALACE SERVES AS AN ENTRANCE TO THE CITADEL

The Complex of Hue Monuments was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 as an outstanding example of Eastern feudal capital. And with such, comes an entrance fee. Compared to, say, Borubodur in Indonesia, it isn’t really that expensive that we’d have to pretend we’re locals and dodge the much higher foreigner fee.

Imperial Citadel Hue Vietnam
THICK WALLS TOPPED WITH INTRICATE IMPERIAL ARCHITECTURE

Dubbed in the local vernacular as Hoàng Thành, the citadel was the capital of Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty founded by Nguyễn Ánh—or Emperor Gia Long for us mortals—in 1789. It lasted for a hundred and forty years, and within a few of those years, with help from geomancers for ancient oriental orientation and massive amount of labor force, rose this magnificent city. And that’s not saying it lightly, it is one of the most colossal, if not the most colossal structure of its kind—or any kind, for that matter—to rise out of Vietnam.

Imperial Citadel Hue Vietnam
SUNFLOWERS INSIDE THE CITADEL

Imperial Citadel Hue Vietnam
ARCHWAYS OPENING TO COURTYARDS AFTER COURTYARDS

Imperial Citadel Hue Moat
A SERENE POND INSIDE THE COMPLEX

I’ve never imagined Vietnam to be anything but socialist, and it was such a big a surprise to see a full fledged imperial city grow out of its soil. But indeed, it was Ho Chi Minh’s guys who toppled this dynasty, throwing out the old feudal system and ushering in the modern era for Vietnam in the process.

Imperial Citadel Hue Collonade
RED WALLS GILDED WITH GOLD TYPICAL OF THE CITADEL

Imperial Citadel Hue Museum
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS INSIDE ONE OF THE MUSEUMS

Imperial Citadel Hue Theater
THE ROYAL THEATER

On the last day of January 1968, a troop of Viet Cong soldiers and the People's Army of Vietnam stormed the gates of the citadel, commencing the Battle of Hue. It was quite the strategic move as American forces were hesitant to carpet bomb the area for fear of destroying the historic and religious buildings inside the fortification.

Imperial Citadel Hue Gate
INTRICATE GATES INSIDE THE CITADEL

Ho Chi Minh’s boys took over the citadel, and eventually the entire nation, but with much consequence. Damage was inevitable due to the fighting. Of the 160 historic buildings within, only ten major sites remained. Reconstruction has been ongoing all through the complex, and we even saw a few as we walked across its paved pathways.

Imperial Citadel Hue
THE ARCHITECTURE IS SURPRISINGLY VERY CHINESE

Imperial Citadel Hue
MASSIVE TILED ROOFS

And walked we did. We walked for hours on end until our feet bled. From the citadel enclosure, into the Imperial City, to the Purple Forbidden City, and even parts of the innermost enclosures reserved for the Royal Family back then. It was like a never-ending labyrinth of temples, palaces, ancient houses, theater and museums, bridges crossing moats, colonnades after colonnades of timber columns and red walls, and people—hordes of tourists, like us.

Imperial Citadel Hue
TO MIEU TEMPLE, ONE OF THE LARGEST IN THE COMPLEX

Imperial Citadel Hue Details
REALLY INTRICATE DECORATIVE DETAILS

It was half-a-day blur of walking along ancient Vietnam where one place smudges on to the next, with meanings and contexts lost against extremely intricate ornaments and lavish gates. It’s like Angkor Wat, only more colorful and confusing. If there’s one thing I would recommend when visiting the Imperial Citadel of Hue, it’s a tour guide. It would cost you some dongs, but the clarity it would bring would be priceless. With its massiveness, you just cannot do and understand this DIY—it’s just absolutely way too much to wrap your head around in.

 

 

Imperial Citadel Hue
Address: 23 Tong Duy Tan Street, Tam Toa, Hue City, Hue Vietnam
Contact Number: (84-234) 3501-143
Entrance Fee: VND150,000.00 (USD6.60) ~ 20% Off for Vietnamese Residents
Opening Hours: 8:00AM to 5:30PM, Except Thurdays, 10:00PM
GPS Coordinates Map: 16.468068, 107.578929


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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, November 3, 2017

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