Sunday, November 23, 2014

Imperial City of Hue and Museum of Royal Fine Arts

Imperial City of Hue was built in 1802 by Emperor Gia Long and completed by his son, Minh Mang in 1833. The city was the residence of the emperors till 1945. The Imperial City of Hue is 2.5 km long and 2.5 km wide with three circles of defensive walls. The outermost circle of wall is approximately 6 m high and 21 m thick with 10 entrances and 24 bastions. The second circle is the the Citadel of Hue (Kinh Thanh Hue), while at the center of the citadel houses the third circle- Forbidden Purple City.

Ngo Mon  (午门) which faces the south is the entrance for visitors. It is where the entrance ticket can be bought. The Hue Citadel with the a total area of 600 m x 600 m is a huge complex. A quick walk around the area might take about 1 - 2 hours. Entering Ngo Mon around 2:30 pm, we took more than 1 hour and 30 minutes to take just a glance inside the city. It was an exhausting trip since we had visited the emperors' tombs for the entire morning.

Ngo Mon leads to two lakes with a bridge in the middle, connecting Ngo Mon to Tai Ho Palace. The Forbidden Purple City was located behind the Tai Ho Palace. However, most of the Forbidden Purple City had been destroyed during the Battle of Hue in 1968. Surrounding the forbidden city are some of the remaining structures which have luckily spared by American bombers. Let us tour around with some of the photos in the city.

We entered the Imperial City of Hue through Ngan Gate. The bridge crossed over the moat allowed only one way traffic.

Flag tower opposite of Ngo Mon was built by Emperor Gia Long. The tower was fixed with eight cannons and two sentry boxes. The flag tower was not open to public during our visit. We saw a similar design at Thang Long Citadel in Hanoi too. Maybe building a flag tower opposite of citadel was favoured by Vietnamese emperors.

To our disappointment, Ngo Mon was under restoration during our visit.

The bridge that connects Ngo Mon to Tai Ho Palace (太和殿). Tai Ho Palace and Ngo Mon were the venues for official ceremonies.

These photos show the area behind Tai Ho Palace, which once the Forbidden Purple City.

Some of the corridors in the forbidden city have been rebuilt according to the original design of the palace (upper row). Private residence of the emperor's mother and grandmother are shown in lower row.

Beyond this gate lies Hung Mieu, The Mieu, and Hien Lam Pavilion. We had too little time and energy left to proceed beyond the gate. We stopped briefly at the Royal Theater, Trieu Mieu, and Thai Mieu on our way out through Hien Nhon Gate.

Royal Treasury is located opposite of Trieu Mieu and Thai Mieu. Both Trieu Mieu and Thai Mieu were under heavy restoration during our visit.

We officially left the citadel through Hien Nhon Gate at around 4 pm.

The moat and wall of citadel outside of Hien Nhon Gate.

This is the aerial map of Citadel of Hue. We entered through Ngo Mon, walked through Tai Ho Palace to the forbidden city, followed by the residence of the emperor's mother and grandmother. Then, we visited royal theatre before going out through Hien Nhon Gate on the right side of this map. A very detailed map is provided by justinbe.

The Citadel of Hue is huge. There were no food and drinks sold inside the citadel area during our visit, and most of the places were not covered. Bringing our own bottle of water and umbrella are important to keep us hydrated while keep us away from blazing sun or soaking rain. Comfortable footwear  is important to keep us going. Although the information provided on the site was simple, but it was enough for us to learn the background, some history, and the functions of the buildings. A very small map was provided on the backside of our entrance ticket. We found that the bigger map that provided by our hotel was a better one.

From Hien Nhon Gate, we took a five-minute walk to the Museum or Royal Fine Arts. It is a place where some of the items gathered from the citadel are displayed. The museum is not big, and the items were not very attractive as well. However, it does provide some picture about the life of the royal family.

The entrance fee of the museum was included in the ticket for the citadel. By the way, free shutter from the citadel to the museum was provided during our visit, while photo taking was not allowed in the museum. We have to leave our shoes outside, but we didn't lost any of ours.

The museum is just a small building. The ticket checking counter was empty during our visit, so literally anyone, with or without ticket could enter the museum.

Cannons displayed around the compound of the museum.

We spent around 30 minutes in the museum. We can't say the museum is a must visit place in Hue, but since we had paid for the entrance and it was located nearby the citadel, so spending half an hour in to visit the museum should not be a problem. Exhausted, we took a rest back in our hotel, before we went out to hunt for local delicacies for dinner. We will share more about our experience in Hue soon. Follow us now on Facebook for lastest update.

Other sharing about Hue:

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